Follow by Email

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Taste of Heaven


        Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8. 
         My visit with my dear Ed last week brought me such joy. I pulled out a small container of pumpkin pie and hot tea from my pink travel bag in his room. After feeding him a bite, I asked how it tasted. “Good!”  The hot tea tasted like soup to him, and finally, after some thought, he settled on Emily-Tea.
         I began to read the current Scriptural Snippet to Ed.  He listened and began to respond. I leaned forward to catch every word. He talked about the joy of Heaven.  “Next time Jesus comes, I want him to bring a piece of Heaven, so I can taste it!” 
         It has been over a week, and still his statement rolls around in my mind.  A Taste of Heaven.  Can we find a piece of Heaven on Earth?  Not until we learn to love like Jesus, do we begin to understand Heaven.  God is love, and Heaven is built on a foundation of His Love.  God’s kind of love brings peace and joy through sacrifice and service exemplified by Jesus on this earth. 
         Exodus 16 reveals the puzzled response of the Israelites when they did not recognize God’s leading from slavery in Egypt. God led them day and night. When they were hungry, God fed them with quail and Manna from Heaven so they would know He is their Father.  When they saw the Manna on the ground, their faces were as blank as children in school trying to learn complicated concepts.  Moses explains and yet they turn from God.  Years later, Jesus arrives on earth, our Manna from Heaven.  Do we turn away in unbelief and puzzlement relying on our own understanding? 
         Heaven is the compass of our reality that gives our lives meaning by living in joyful praise. Heaven captures our hearts and our minds. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:2-4
         Will we recognize a ‘piece of Heaven’ on earth?  Where we find God’s love in action, we find a piece of Heaven!  Will we know what to do with it?  God never says complain and whine and you will see me! Apostle Paul had two desires. He knew the reality of Heaven. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.  But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Philippians 1:23
         One evening I sat down, ready to study and realized I had finished my current course of study.  What would I do? Just as God’s mercies are new each day, so is learning about our unseen God.  When we are face to face with our Father in Heaven, we find out we have much more to learn.
         Jesus came to teach us how to love and He bore the payment/sacrifice for our sins to make us Heaven-Ready if we but believe.  Grace is a free gift, it isn’t what we do, but what we believe and how we live that translates into Heaven for us.   
         We are pulled in a tug of war – we want to be where the action is on this earth. We often become addicted to activities and attitudes in these places.  We lose sight of living for and in Christ.  We no longer see the treasures of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. 
         Day by day, if we resist the tug to earthly things, but hold tight to our Lord Jesus Christ, we gain the sweet fruit of living for Jesus.  We love others and the world knows Jesus.  We find a joy that is in Christ and peace that washes away earthly turmoil.  We gather the sweetness of love that shows in living lives of kindness, goodness, and gentleness.  We learn the patience, waiting for others and patience with ourselves.  We learn to wait on the Lord, for in His Name, He leads us.  Our faithfulness to God becomes eternal, deep and wide, beyond time.  The self-control helps us to ‘bite our tongue’ against impulsive words or actions not pleasing to our steadfast God.
         Yes, dear Husband, you taste Heaven each day as you succumb to the depths of dementia, depending on others for everything.  I learn from your patience, kindness, and acceptance.  God has given me a deep appreciation for the care you receive from others. How often I long for our home in Heaven. 
         This is our wilderness of learning to trust our Lord God and this trust brings a depth of peace I would not know without this time in our lives. 

         Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
         But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
         When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:3
         But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.  And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. 2 Peter 3:13-14
         No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.  And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5

-->




Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

One Journey

         When Ed was diagnosed with dementia in 2012, I knew it to be a pronouncement of challenge and purpose.  As the journey began, I packed information into living and planned the differences in our changes each day.
         The first challenge was preparation to move closer to ‘family’ in a different state. When our third son visited, I heard a word that would describe the next five months – ‘downsize’.  Downsize means ‘letting go’ of things. Our four children rallied and took time off from work to help us move.  What a blessing!
         Then came a season of new things.  A new church family, doctors, grocery store, living in a condo, changing address phone number, zip code, and recalling all the numbers ‘on call’!  Another change is that the snow doesn’t melt as quickly as it did in Arkansas here.
         During the next four years, we watched our birthdays fly by.  It was then our daughter convinced me that physically I could no longer take care of their Dad, even with part-time help. We moved Ed to an Alzheimer Nursing Care facility just a year ago. 
         We celebrated our 64th Wedding Anniversary in the nursing home.  Another anniversary is fast approaching.   Time passes, and I know I didn’t ‘pack enough’ to sustain me.  This last year I have learned to live alone.  The emptiness of the house often cries out to me in the night.  During this time I turned to writing blogs and brief scriptural snippets in earnest, to fill the time between visits with Ed.
         Our daughter and her husband, plus our second son came for a brief visit just before Christmas.  It was on Christmas Day I visited Ed and received one of God’s most beautiful gifts – PEACE.  Peace that God IS and He alone can care for Ed more completely than I can. I praise God each day for His Goodness.
         Our visits have become an oasis of hope and rest  -- praying, listening to music, and talking of our children and the generations to follow, and Heaven.  It is then Ed knows me and is at peace.  A visit to another world is the best way to describe my time with Ed and reminds me that we are all on a journey in this life.
         A Journey can be a horrific experience when we have not packed our hope in Christ.  Curious, I searched the Bible Concordance for Road Trip or Vacation.  They are not listed.  Just journey… 
         One of the most notable journeys in the Bible is the forty-year trek the Children of Israel made in the Wilderness. Their trip began by fleeing through the bottom of the Red Sea, escaping the clutches of the Pharaoh’s pursuing charioteers.  This journey was a guided tour through the wilderness.  They were fed Manna from Heaven by their Tour Guide.  It was a time of turning away and returning back to God.
         This might describe Jonah’s journey as well –God sent him to Nineveh with the message of repentance.  Jonah went in the opposite direction and tried to sail away from God.  When asked during a storm, Jonah said he worshiped God.  Is this the way to worship? Escaping God?  He told the sailors to toss him into the sea, and the storm would cease.  That is when the big fish arranged by God swallowed Jonah.  Jonah realized that there is no escape from God and prayed and he was released.
         Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time:  “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” Jonah 3:1-2
         God gives second chances and He pursues us.  He may not send a big fish to swallow us, but He sends us on a journey that teaches us that He is our Lord! 
         Apostle Paul’s three journeys to teach Jesus is summed up in 2 Corinthians 11:25-28.  Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul, the persecutor of Jews.  He learned God’s Way on the way to Damascus to gather more Jews to persecute. As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’  Acts 22:6-7.
         God pursued Saul-Paul and turned his life completely around.  Were Paul’s Three Journeys vacations?  Paul didn’t come back with photos and descriptions of the scenes he had seen. (Scenes that God created)  No.  A Journey has a purpose – a God-given purpose. 
         Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.  I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.  I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 
         How could Paul have endured?  He did not pack as we would for a ‘journey’.  He packed things not made by hands. He packed faith, trust, love for others, and a deep desire to serve God in his heart. 
         Our lives have purpose.  We are pursued by God to learn to live peacefully and with joy.  How often I return to the Fruit of the Spirit and contemplate these qualities no law is against.
          But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Galatians 5:22-23.
         For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
         We are born into this world for God’s purpose.  We are living our one journey.  When our perspective is on the Eternal Presence of God, we will live with intentional expectation of the coming of Jesus.  When we see all of life through the eyes of Christ and His Love, we are blessed with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. 
         But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  Philippians 3:20
         Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.  Philippians 1:27

-->


Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Listen for your Name!

         What is the most precious thing about us? It is our name. From the time we are tiny, we listen for our name. We were usually named after a grandparent, or aunt or uncle.  When did naming begin?  Names began in the beginning.  God gave the job of naming animals and plants to Adam and Eve. God named the stars.  Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.  Isaiah 40:27. 
         Who we are to others is often determined by our words we use and our actions, propelled by our thoughts.  The tone of feeling colors our words with negative or positive attitudes. 
         When we hear our whole name from our parents, we fear the worst. We search our memory for what we may have done wrong.  We respond to kind and loving words, for this means acceptance and unconditional love – this is God-Love.
         When our eleven-year-old son made a basketball goal unknowingly for the other team, he waited for cheers as he turned around.  He did not expect the laughter that poured out from the stands.  Confused, he asked his friend what happened.  The coach motioned him to play on with a wave in an act of forgiveness.  Our son learned about forgiveness that day. Love and Forgiveness walk holding hands in our lives.
         During childhood, I remember Mom calling us in at dusk for supper – in those days, it wasn’t called dinner for us.  There was anticipation in that calling – not only to eat – but being where we were loved and belonging – with our family around the supper table.
         Whenever our friends turned away from us, we felt lost.  We felt as if we had lost our place in the world. Being gracious by walking in someone else’s shoes and not placing ourselves first is a big lesson.  Our culture praises the #One winner and winning no matter what!  Who receives the most credibility? The one who helps another person win. 
         When our name is used in a derogatory manner, do we consider what it is like for someone else to have the same treatment?  Have you been in a group when you hear God’s name misused?  Once, as my sixth graders were lining up to go to lunch, someone used God’s Name as a cuss word.  I looked at the boy, and asked, “He is listening, what would you like to tell Him?”
         When anyone says our name in a thoughtless manner, we are devastated. We want to be thought of as ‘good’, a champion in our own minds. We think nothing is too difficult to achieve, no mountain is too high to climb or an idea too complex idea to understand.  Then reality sets in – without holding to God’s hand - we can not be good.
         How important is a name?  In the eyes of our Creator – it is most important.  That is why He has names for everything, even the stars that light up the darkness are reminders of Light and Love.  Jesus was born in a chorus of praise from the angels. Why did this praise-worthy Son of God end his earthly life on the cross, wearing a crown of thorns on his head and a mocking sign proclaiming Him to be the King of the Jews?  He was raised from the dead – in John 3 is written his purpose in life.  The One who was, is, and will ever be.  There is no end to His faithfulness. His Name is above all names!       For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
         Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Philippians 2:9-10
         “What is in a name?” wrote Shakespeare long ago.  The name of utmost importance is described in God’s Holy Word and leaves us much to ponder.
         But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13-14
         Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7
         He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. Daniel 2:20
         For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. ’There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12
         For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar. My name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Isaiah 51:15
         Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.  2 Thessalonians 1:12
         Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.  And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.  I John 5:12-14
         And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21
         When all you hold onto, Is slipping through your hands.  When there's no one to turn to, - And no one understands, That's when God whispers your name. He's never ashamed - To call you His own. That's when God whispers your name - In your darkest night, You'll never be alone…When God whispers your name!  (Matthew West).








Comments? eacombs@att.net