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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mountains of Grandeur

 is for Mountains
1. a large natural elevation of the earth's surface rising abruptly from the surrounding level; a large steep hill.
2.  peak, height, mount, prominence, summit, pinnacle.

Mountains.  The foothills of Oklahoma looked so large to me when I was a child. Climbing a hill seemed a daunting task, helping Mom up the hill took all three of us, my brothers and me.  At the top of the mountain, we raised our arms in victory and felt that we were rulers of all.  We exulted in the beauty of the valley that extended as far as we could see.

Since then, as a family, we chugged up to the top of Pike’s Peak.  Later I spent a week of camp in the Rocky Mountain area of Colorado. The beauty and desolation of the mountain took my breath away. Then I wonder the purpose for God creating Mountains.  The phrase, Mountain of God appears in the American Standard translation of the Bible 40 times. 

When God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses is one instance - Now the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction. ”So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. But to the elders he said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them.”
Exodus 24:12-14. 

God uses his Creation in many ways to teach, to discipline and to give sanctuary.  His control is absolute over his Creation.  I read scriptures containing the word ‘mountain’ and now I see mountains in a different way when I was a child.  Then they were to be conquered by climbing them and now they are a pinnacle of wonderment.

Genesis 22:2 - He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
Exodus 3:12 - And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be a sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
Exodus 4:27-28 - Now the LORD said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do.
Exodus 10:12 - Now the LORD said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do.
2 Peter 1:17-19 - For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star arises in your hearts.

Revelation 6:13-15 - and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;

Psalm 36:6 - Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
Psalm 98:8 - Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy
Psalm 46:2-3 - Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
Psalm 50:10-12 - “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.
 “I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
 “If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains.
Psalm 68:14-17 - A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan; A mountain of many peaks is the mountain of Bashan. Why do you look with envy, O mountains with many peaks, At the mountain which God has desired for His abode? Surely the LORD will dwell there forever.

A mystery, that speaks of faith is this verse that speaks of a mountain – Matthew 17:20 - And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Next time I see a mountain, I will not see just a mountain, but God’s teaching tool created by Him.  Next time we desire spiritual refreshment in our lives, we look to the mountains.  We will let God into our hearts so that He builds our faith and we can move mountains. His power and majesty are indescribable.  His glory is exciting beyond belief.  Trusting and believing our God is the mountain we climb.  God brings us through the valleys of our life to the heights supreme just with His Love.  And we invite Him into our lives.

And then we sing:
Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and far away
Go tell it on the mountain

That Jesus Christ is born!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Lord Is My Light!

 is for Love and Light!
 - God is Love, and His Love is different from human love.
 - Light is the radiance or illumination from a particular source.

From childhood, I could recite the verse – God is love.  I sang the song, “Jesus loves me, this I know!”  I knew the words, but had no idea what these words mean.  What is this mysterious thing called love?  How do we know what love is?  It isn’t just a feeling.  Love comes from the heart, which has nothing to do with the five senses.  It isn’t just an act of giving or serving.  It is the essence of God.  It separates those who love God and those who do not.

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God for God is love. I John 4:7-8

Without God, there is no love.  Loving others is sometimes a difficult task, one that requires more than human will.  Love involves many aspects.  It brings hope, joy and peace.  Love brings the strength and the will to forgive. 

In I Corinthians 13:4-7, is the definition of love.  In this day and age, many like to take tests to learn about themselves.  Verses 4 – 7: 
    Love is patient and kind.
    Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude.
    It does not demand its own way.
    It is not irritable,
    It keeps no record of being wronged.
    It does not rejoice about injustice
    But rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
    Love never gives up,
    Never loses faith,
    Is always hopeful,
    And endures through every circumstance.
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”  I John 4:10

With love comes light.  When I asked my husband which came first, Love or Light, he answered, “Love came first from God, because He created light on the earth.”

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.  I John 1:5.

Have you ever wondered why God created the sun to shine on the earth?  One reason is that He IS light.  We are bereft when the man-made power is not working, and our world is plunged into darkness.  We are used to having instant-light at the flip of a switch to brighten our world.  We even have mobile lights to find our way in the dark, so we do not stumble.  We call them flashlights.  Last night I saw lightening bugs flashing their way – almost there. Is that the way our feeble man-made lights appear to God?

Have you wondered what would happen if God withdrew from the world and all He created for our pleasure, as some would desire?  Would man-made light take its place in the darkness that would ensue? Or could they function without the hand of God present?

What is love?  To know what love is, we must know what love isn’t.  It is not putting on pride, shame, guilt or manipulating our friends or family.  To know love is to put on compassion, patience, understanding, and know the essence of God, for God IS love.
Love illuminates and clarifies.  Love reveals truth.  Love gives strength and endurance.  Love lightens the dark corners and secrets of our heart and washes away sin and shame.

Love does not pick and choose the recipient of love.  Love thy neighbor as thyself!” Tangible Love came into this world through God’s Gift of Grace, His Son, Jesus, who died for us. 

The promise is: ‘for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”  Romans 14:11

We learn about the truest and authentic kind of love from our Lord God, who shows us each day what love is.  And His Love brings Light and Hope in every aspect of our lives.  His Love is Everlasting and Steadfast.  His Love never burns out; it doesn’t flicker.  His love burns steadily and forever.  His Love has a message – an invitation – to come to Him and live in His Presence forever.
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.  Psalm 136:6-8

The song, “Love is On the Way," describes the arrival the hope for each of us in Jesus.
We were broken, hiding from His face / Drowning in all our sin and shame
Lost in darkness, then we heard Him say / Have no fear, love is on the way

Christ our Savior, laid His glory by / Died our death, rose to give us life
Now in heaven waiting for the day / He shall come, love is on the way

Forever, God, we declare Your greatness / You deserve all the highest praise
Evermore may Your Kingdom reign now / All the earth will say, love is on the way
You gave it all to rescue me / I offer all, my everything.

…(Caleb Clements, Travis Ryan, Brandon Collins)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kindness Creates Love

is for Kindness
Kindness synonyms - generosity, charity, sympathy, compassion, tenderness.
An act, state of quality or behavior….that encompasses gentleness, goodness and patience and self-control.  Kindness creates love, joy and peace.

Kindness is never random; it is intentional.  Kindness wears a smile.  Kindness does not smother or hover.  Kindness is a first cousin of love.  One cannot purchase kindness; it's only found in the giving spirit.  Kindness is difficult to describe.  The dictionary is at loss for words which define kindness.  It can only use the word, kind. Nice cannot compare with kindness. Nice is to Kindness as Happy is to Joy.

Kindness is not haughty or arrogant.  Kindness is not blind to injustice, hurts or slights. Kindness does not judge or condemn.  Kindness is unconditional and always comes from the heart, a heart filled with the love of Jesus.  It is a quality we chosen to live.

God chose His people. He created us to choose how we live.  His chosen people can choose to love Him.  And yet they often chose to set themselves apart from God by setting themselves up to be god in His place.  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Colossians 3:12

What does it take to be kind?  How can we exhibit kindness?  To whom should we be kind?  Is there a season set aside for exhibiting kindness? 

When I want to know who God is, what His characteristics are, I go to Galatians 5:22-23:   
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!

These inter-related qualities are how God operates.  The fifth one, kindness, does not stand alone.  An act of kindness contains the other eight qualities from the Holy Spirit.

Kindness is not an isolated happening.  It contains faithfulness and loyalty.  Kindness is not rude but is gentle and considerate.  Kindness is a giving. There is always love and joy in giving.  Self-control in kindness enables knowing how often and the kind of kindness to give.  It speaks of the boundary that enables kindness to be a ‘teaching’ with patience. 

Kindness shows the ability of the giver to take the focus off of self and outwardly to others’ needs and concerns.  Kindnesses we give to others is a way to create a vision to many new ways to see beyond the tiny world populated only by our own selfish needs and wants.

Have you ever wondered why we love to hear the sweetness of a child’s laughter? The laughter is a kindness that invades our hearts and communicates innocence and love.  And we respond with a lighter the spirit and a smile.  We reach out our arms to touch the giver of the kindness of joy.  It brightens our world.  Let us learn from children and look about us and see others as God sees them.  Let us open our hearts to their needs and encourage them with a smile, listening to their heart, encouraging their lives, sharing our lives and our goods with others.  Always praying for each one.

 Is there a season for kindness?  Is there a season for sunrises and sunsets?  No.  Sunrises and sunsets are everyday occurrences.  Kindness is a constant attitude that brings the 'giver' a constant joy of walking with God.  Giving a kindness gives an awareness of His blessings.

Should we handpick the recipient of our kindnesses?  Does the rain fall on the just and the unjust?  Kindnesses in the name of Jesus speak of His love.  Isaiah 55:11 - It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Is giving a kindness a ‘glory-catcher’ for the giver?  A kindness given in the name of Jesus becomes a ‘behind-the-scenes’ giver.  When we moved and found a new church family, we were blessed with visits and calls to see if we ‘need anything.'  We received another visit just last week, and the deacon was the bearer of friendship, visit, and a plate of sugar cookies with green and orange frosting.  I look at the plate of cookies and bless the hands of the one who made these cookies, for they represented more than cookies to me.  They are a tangible offering of the blessing of Jesus’ Love.  Each morsel is a smile and a hug directly from Jesus. 

Once when I visited Mother and saw how she worked in her flower garden, even when her body often complained.  I asked, “Mom, why do you keep raising the flowers?”  Her answer is one I will always remember.  “Because when I go see someone who is sick or is older, I take the flowers to them.”  She also baked loaves of bread and cinnamon rolls to give away when the flowers were resting beneath the snow.  Kindness.  Yes, Kindness Creates the Love of Jesus.

-    Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Proverbs 3:3
-    We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.  II Corinthians 6:6

-    He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.  Ephesians 1:7-8