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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Be Still and Know...

Q is for Quiet
            1.  Making little or noise.  Silent, still, hushed, noiseless.
            2.  Carried out secretly, discretely, or with moderation.  Private, secretly, unofficially.

In the days before television, the radio was my constant companion as a teenager.  One day my Mom had a talk with me, “Don’t you realize that the constant noise you listen to is not good (Frank Sinatra)?  Can’t you stand to be quiet and just listen?  Are you afraid of the quiet? 

As a young teacher, I learned about the quiet game.  Providing released time for a first grade teacher, I entered a first grade classroom.  In the first 5 minutes, one young man bloodied a classmate’s nose.  Noise ensued.  Finally, one little girl asked quietly, “Maybe we should play the Quiet Game?” (There is a game for Quiet?) I asked her to teach me the Quiet Game.  Her eyes sparkled as she explained, and soon the entire first grade class were participated in the “Quiet Game”.  Peace quickly became the norm.  The teacher learned many lessons that day.  I learned that quiet can be achieved through playing a game.  I learned a ‘child shall truly lead them’.  I learned that through quiet comes peace.  I learned…

Have you ever wondered how a child perceives the command, “Be Quiet!”  “Be Still!”  How do we understand it?  Understanding is everything.  When I first read the verse from Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world,"   I heard God say, “Be Quiet!”   God is saying, “Listen to me.” 

The “Why” we should listen is the second part of the verse. “I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Take a look at the world as we know it today.  Individually and corporately, we put God in His Sunday Box while the world is in a downward spiral of greed and struggle for control, trying to be ‘god’.  The second part of the verse is that God will be honored by EVERY nation, throughout the world.  Did you hear?  Did you listen?  God will be honored by every person… every knee will bow. 

How does God try to get our attention, so that we listen?  God does not create a new world, no, he uses his creation to say, ‘listen….’.  The Old Testament is filled with examples – floods, fires, hail, drought, famine, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes that cause suffering.

• The Lord made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens.  When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain.  He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.  Jeremiah 15:15-16
  When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.  Jeremiah 10:13
• “Have you visited the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of hail?
 (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war.)  Job 38:22-23

Be Still…., but what is the second part?  Know!  Know what?  We pride ourselves on being well-educated in our esteemed universities, but what is it that we know?  What is being taught?  What is the most important to know?  There are many books written with 5 to 20 things we should know about every subject on the face of the earth.

There are no degrees or honorary degrees for what we need to know.  This ‘knowing’ comes from one heart to another.  This ‘knowing’ begins at birth.  ‘Knowing’ God.  Knowing that He is faithful and just.  Knowing that God is Love.  Knowing that God is the Creator of all we can see and what we cannot see.  Knowing that God is our Shield.  God is our Shepherd.  Knowing that God has plans and work for us to do.  Knowing that He is in control and has placed us where He wants us to be in this world.  That God wants us to be prepared to live with Him eternally.  We know Who God is and acknowledging Him as our Lord and Master.  We worship Him who created us in love.  We worship the God and let Him be God in our lives.

Just when life seems the heaviest and I feel I can go no further.  When every step in life seems heavier than the one before and I want to quit.  Just when there seems no zest in life, that is when God calls a verse of scripture to mind to give me hope or someone smiles or dispenses a hug, or a message comes that brings hope.  That is when I see Jesus.  That is when I receive joy of expectation and my heart is revived.  And I know.

Be still and know….
Creator, world maker / God of space and time
Unchanging, unmoving / Constant Friend of mine
Conqueror, all that breathes is in Your hands / Master of the earth
Comforter, Peace bringer / Father, You are
All my life and all my worship / To You my everything 
All I have with all I am / For You my everything
Powerful, strong and mighty over all / King above all kings
Lifted up on the tree of love / King of mine, You are. (Kati Pessin)

  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!  Psalm 37:7
  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  Mark 4:39
  For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5
  But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  I Peter 3:4

  And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.  Isaiah 32:17

Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Power Words

P is for Peace - the normal, non-warring condition of a nation, group of nations or the world. 
Synonyms - Accord, friendship, love, reconciliation, truce, unity, armistice, order, pacification, treaty
P is for Patience -  provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain,  without complaint, loss of temper or irritation.
Synonyms - Composure, diligence, endurance, fortitude, grit, humility, moderation, persistence, poise, self-control, tolerance. forbearance
P is for Perseverance – a steady course of action, a purpose, a state, even in spite of difficulties, discouragement and obstacles.
Synonyms - Dedication, determination, endurance, grit, moxie, persistence, spunk, stamina, steadfastness, tenacity

The more I think of these three words, Peace, Patience and Perseverance, the more I realized how important these qualities are in our lives.  The picture in my mind of each quality returns me to memories of my parents and grandparents.  My parents grew up on farms a state a way from each other.  Both worked in the field where perseverance and patience grew as they guided the plow, row by row, to plant crops.  A straight row is achieved by watching the fence post in the distance.  When a row needed to be re-plowed to straighten it, patience grows.  How many times did their minds wander as they watched a rabbit or a mouse scurry away.  What did they think about as they watched the sun traverse the sky?  Did they dream dreams of their adult life?  Did they ever encounter peaceful moments like those in the field when they were young?

Did they consider the hardships their grandparents and parents encountered to come to this country?  Did my parents compare their lives of relative peace to the persecution  their grandparents endured because of their faith in God?  Did they understand the blessedness of worship of the One True God each Lord’s Day and enjoy the freedom of worship? 

Life is filled with so many every day trials that require patience and perseverance.  As a young wife, the unending chore of washing dishes was a matter of perseverance.  Diapers – not disposable – but cloth diapers were constantly in need of changing and washing.  The joy of the smiles and giggles from my babies gave me pleasure and compensation for the patience and perseverance are needed. 

The inter-relatedness of these three words is fascinating.  The first two are part of the fruit of spirit, the characteristics of our Lord God….PEACE and PATIENCE.  You might say that through Patience comes Peace.  Or is it that from the peace of God in our hearts that patience is born?

Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. Psalm 34:14.  There is a relationship ship between good and peace.  Shun evil.  For it is the opposite of good.  Work to maintain peace.  It doesn’t just happen.

It is so easy to excuse and rationalize our opinions, actions  and re-actions with, “It’s the way I am.”  “God made me this way!”  “I can’t help it.”  Then I read in Psalm 29:11 – The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.

But how do we ‘get’ this peace?  Where does it come from?  Is it like the rain that simply falls on us?  No, Psalm 119:165, has the answer. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.  Wait a minute, that sounds like school, that sounds like hard work.  No, way! Are you talking about God’s Word, The Bible?  Oh, yes!  Nuggets of wisdom lie there, waiting just for you and for me.  Waiting to strengthen, comfort and provide Peace. Philippians 4:7 - 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.

We are not born with patience, but must learn this through many remembered events.  We are born wanting more than we have and always what someone else has. Our culture is drowning in the lack of patience – and much money changes hands to make sure we have the latest and the most fashionable clothes, cars, houses, techno-gadgets.  It is said to give us stature with our friends who have not.  This negates humility

James 1:2-3 – tells us the value of hardships and trouble.  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  Pain is gain, they say.  But soul-hurt is different.  It changes us in the most beautiful way.  Testing our faith – giving our endurance a chance to grow – to be perfect and complete.  Needing nothing?  For this gainful-pain gives us satisfaction and fulfillment that doesn’t last until the next shopping trip, but lasts for an eternity.

Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.  Again and again they tested God’s patience and provoked the Holy One of Israel.  They did not remember his power and how he rescued them from their enemies.  Psalm 78:40-42.  We have the time from sunrise to sunset and our days are limited.  God’s time is different - But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 2 Peter 3:8.  Does God have more opportunities to be patient?  Is it easier for Him to wait for stiff-necked people to turn to Him? 

The world will never be in sync with the qualities of peace and patience until Jesus returns.  On every side we witness cruelty and hate and abhorrence.  It takes perseverance to continue to practice patience that enables peace.  Every moment of every day we have opportunities to practice patience and to allow God to work peace in our hearts.  Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble. Psalm 119:165

Perseverance, the third ‘power word’, encourages when our single-mindedness fails us. Stand firm, do not weary in well-doing and other scriptures remind us to persevere through adversity.

One spring evening, my task was to plant green onions.  One after another, I tamped down the fragrant earth to hug each onion.  A younger neighbor girl came by and watched me.  Her comment held wonder, “You just keep on keeping on.”  That was perseverance that was expected by my parents who taught me to continue on.  Later while practicing piano, sewing, canning, learning, I kept on keeping on.  Sixty-two years of marriage and enjoying three generations of children….are the result of keep on keeping on.

The promise in John 14:3, When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am, is sure.  This promise is sure, there is perseverance in action.  John later writes in Revelation the caution….and promise.  I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. Revelation 3:11

So, I keep on keeping on, following Jesus, trusting him, loving him, and knowing He is faithful to keep his promises.  I’m still working on patience and desiring peace that begins with me.  Whenever I see God’s Power Words, I am reminded of the Eternal Life that is ours. 

Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. I Timothy 6:11b-12

Philippians 4:6-8 - Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 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.  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 
2 Peter 1:1-3 - I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.  May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 
Ecclesiastes 7:8 - Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.

Colossians 3:12 - Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Experience Obedience


 is for Obedience
1.    The state or quality of being obedient
2.    Submission, subservience, deference, yielding, compliant

Our four young children raced for the back door.  My voice trailed after them in vain, “Don’t slam the door,” as the slam reverberated through the house.  Then I would mutter, “OK, slam the door, but mind me!”  Now I wonder about my need to not hear the door slam versus enjoying the exuberance and energy of our children.  A professor once told our class that we should pick our battles with students.  What is important, I ask myself often?

As time goes by, the essence of obedience contains some side areas in our hearts.  One of the most important is humility.  Obedience is placing someone’s desires before ours.  The arrogant or haughty individual has no quality of humility available to him. 

Blind obedience is similar to rote obedience.  Blind obedience is a ritual, an obedience that is done without thinking.  It is just something that is accepted to do.  Obeying  and never understanding why.

Are there different motivations for obedience?  In the work setting, obedience happens because of the fear of losing a job.  Survival can cause us to acquiesce to someone’s demands.  Our innate desire is to be valued. This may cause us to disobey or rebel, or it can cause us to try to shock others into noticing us by our words or actions.

Then there are the wedding vows where ‘cherish’ has replaced ‘obey’.  Why?  Is it the fear of being less that we want to be?  Understanding the joy of obedience takes a mature person.  One who understands the true nature of obedience and the purpose that Jesus has given us, to have a servant-heart.  It takes a stronger person to serve others than to demand their rights through life.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.   For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:21-24
In this scripture we submit to each other, wives to husbands, husbands as head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, and the church to Christ. There is a pattern of submission. One submission leads to another.  Submission is an adventure and a challenge in accepting what is.  And where do children fit in?  They are not forgotten.  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Ephesians 6:1-3

Jesus knelt in prayer in the Garden prior to his crucifixion for our sins.  What did He pray? John 17 reveals the heart of a Son whose allegiance is in His Father.  His coming to earth had a purpose. His coming to earth was motivated by love, the love that makes a servant-heart ‘beat’ ever more strongly.  Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17: 25-26

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it.  Obedience is inherent in the creation.  Everything follows a rhythm and a path that is part of the creation.  Including us.  Imagine what would happen if the trees rebelled at losing their leaves in the winter, refusing to let go of their finery?  What would happen if tomatoes had a contest as to who could grow the biggest?  What if gravity let go just to see what would happen?  What if the clouds went on strike and stayed put over their favorite part of the earth?  What if the cows refused to give milk and the chickens went on an egg-cracking spree?  We expect these parts of God’s creation to obey their creator.

The Bible has many stories of rebellion, hatred, anger and chaotic behavior with resulting consequences.  God has given us commands to live a peaceful life, a life that brings us joy, if we obey. Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.  Deuteronomy 5:33

There are those who would erase God from their minds and their world and become their own god. Their insatiable need for control and power knows no end.  Separation from God and His laws leads to chaos in the world around them.  Tim Keller – “Obeying God comes after Grace.”  Another saying is this, “Our obedience is our gift to God. 

• Hebrews 11:8 - By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
• Isaiah 50:10 - Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.
• Psalm 119:34 - Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
• Jeremiah 7:23 - but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.
• Ephesians 6:1-3 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
• Colossians 3:22 - Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
• Hebrews 5:8-9 - Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

• Romans 2:13 - For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Comments? eacombs@att.net