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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Voice

V is for Voice
1.    the sound or sounds uttered through the mouth of living creatures, especially of human beings in speaking, shouting, singing, etc.
2.    the faculty or power of uttering sounds through the mouth by the controlled expulsion of air; speech
3.    Synonyms – cry, sound, speech, statement, tone, articulation, call, murmur, shout, song, roar

The first voices I remember hearing are the voices of my parents in that small farm house in the panhandle of Oklahoma.  In Clinton, Oklahoma, my two brothers’ voices were added to what I heard.  Differences in the voices were clear to me.  One Christmas solo I heard, Star of the East, was sung with a wide vibrato.  I had never heard such singing before.  My Grandfather Suderman, Aunt Bernice and Uncle Eli’s voices sang that same song with clear voices.

Emory Gasaway, our minister, baptized me when I was 8 years old. One of his sermons stayed with me. He described a cliff in detail.  Everyone stood around that cliff.  Inching forward to cross the line, we could peer into the valley of a huge burning fire.  We knew that moving forward could cause a tumble into everlasting fire.  I always wondered how close to the line I could come before I lost my balance and lost my soul. 

After my Dad died, I returned home one day and found the calendar picture of Dad holding a harvest of grapes.  I realized I had forgotten my Father’s Voice.  No matter how I tried, the memory was gone. Now the memory of my Mother’s Voice is gone, too.  I can remember the things they taught me, their words are still with me, but the sound of their voices are gone.

My thoughts about voices turned toward the Bible.  The written words are there, but not the sound of the voices.  How long did Abram remember the voice that told him to leave Ur of Chaldees? How interesting that Isaac knew the voice of Jacob’s and not Esau’s, when he came for his birth right. Genesis 27:22
The promise of God to Moses that if he obeys, I will not make you suffer illness, I am the Lord who heals you, Exodus 15:26
And the Lord spoke to you from the heart of the fire. You heard the sound of his words but didn’t see his form; there was only a voice. Deuteronomy 4:12
Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. Deuteronomy 13:4

Which brings us to the question what does God’s voice sound like?  How would we know it is God? Even more than our family, God’s voice is a mystery to us.  Yet the Bible describes his voice in terse and stark terms.  Knowing His Voice may be more a recognition from the heart than from the sound.  In today’s world the sound is turned up on TV, Radio, Ipod, Ipad, earphones, computer, speakers – how could we even manage to hear God’s Voice?
I Kings 19:11-13 contains a description of the voice of the Lord to Elijah - “Go out and stand before me on the mountain, the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Voice of God as described in the Bible:
Thunder > 2 Samuel 22:14 ~ Loud voice > I Kings 8:55 ~ Echoes above the Sea > Psalm 29:3 ~  Majestic > Psalm 29:4 ~ The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars; the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon > Psalm 29:5 ~ strikes with bolts of lightning >
Psalm 29:7 ~  makes the barren wilderness quake; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh > Psalm 29:8 ~  twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare > Psalm 29:9 ~ roared like a vast multitude of people. > Daniel 10:6 ~ like waves crashing against the shore > Ezekiel 1:24 ~ The moving wings of the cherubim sounded like the voice of God Almighty and could be heard even in the outer courtyard. > Ezekiel 10:5 ~ The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake > Joel 3:16 ~ For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. > I Thessalonians 4:16 ~ a loud voice like a trumpet blast >  Revelation 1:10

 Is Jesus still calling?  Yes.  Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.  Revelation 3:20.  Today my husband looks at the open front door.  In his Fogged- Dementia/Mind he told me that he keeps expecting someone really important to come through the door.  Someone who will visit with him and I was filled with many thoughts.  Is my husband thinking more clearly than I know?  After I named the people who have come through the open door, friends and family, he said, No.  Not any of those people.  I am waiting for the Lord to come through the door.” My husband is waiting for the voice of the Lord.

I wonder how the shepherds felt when they heard the voices of the angels announcing the birth of Jesus.  Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14
Have you heard the voice of an angel, God’s messengers?  Have you heard the nudge/voice of the Holy Spirit?  Or perhaps you have had the experience of Balaam when his donkey rebuked him in a human voice.  Numbers 22:21-28 and 2 Peter 2:16.
The promise is -  He is coming, Jesus is coming!  We wait for the Word, alive or dead, we will know. We will hear his Voice.  Our hearts will thrill like never before!  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.” I Thessalonians 4:16



Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Understanding

U is for Understanding.
·      the ability to understand something; comprehension
·      Synonyms – comprehension, apprehension, grasp, absorption, assimilation

The most desired gift of all is to be understood.  When we love someone, we want to understand that one person 's communication more clearly.  Our oldest two sons were almost two years apart.  When Paul began to talk delightful baby talk, I wanted to understand him.  I asked Dan, almost three years old, to interpret. He looked at me with a questioning look, listened to his brother and answered, "Blaeg dee la dah dah." I understood immediately -- Dan didn't understand either.  It takes time to understand someone else.

Understanding another person begins by building a rapport.  Having the desire to learn their hopes, goals and dreams. The song, Getting to know you, getting to know all about you...describes the beginning of understanding.   

A bride and groom embark on a close relation built on a mutual desire to know all about each other.  It doesn't happen overnight, but takes years.  In four months, my dear husband and I will celebrate 63 years of marriage.  Each season and change in our lives has required a shift and new re-learning to understand each other.  The current season of Dementia has again brought the need for new understanding and adjusting to a much different marriage than in the past.

One of the most satisfying and blessed relationships is with our adult children.  More than a half-century provides genuine love and shared goals graced with laughter and joy of understanding.  Each of our children brings a uniqueness of understanding and we love each one of our children and their families. 

We often hear the phrase...It's not about you!  Understanding is about caring and serving someone else, taking responsibility for us and not blaming others for our failures.  Now how can this be? We are flawed; we make bad decisions, demand our rights and want our wants gratified.  Now! 

To gain understanding in our lives, we need our Creator.  We need Jesus.  We need to understand the laws by which to live. We learn, day by day, to love and forgive as Jesus did.  We learn to walk in truth without subterfuge and barriers.  We begin to understand what is important in our lives is not things, but peace, love and joy in relationships with others and with God. 

Do I understand God?  No.  It is a lifetime quest.  One that grows sweeter with the years.  There are no short cuts.  It isn’t a speed course we can take in a semester. Through pain and suffering and sorrow, we turn more and more to God because we learn we can’t do life alone or on our own.  And we begin to understand a bit more about the Lord of the Universe, the Master of all.  His Word takes on new and deeper meaning as we begin to understand in part, His purpose and plans for each of us.  The ‘why’ of things has less importance as we accept His ‘what is’.  When the world declares right wrong and wrong right, we simply continue to trust His Word as our Truth and our Rock of Salvation.

If, after 50 years, we have a loving relationship with our children, I can only imagine what a lifetime, and a forever, will be in store for an understanding relationship with our Lord and Savior. 

Long ago, King Solomon wrote in Proverbs:
• These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.
Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. Proverbs 1:1-3
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Job 28:23-28 - “God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth and sees everything under the heavens.
He decided how hard the winds should blow and how much rain should fall.  He made the laws for the rain and laid out a path for the lightning. Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it. He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.  And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom, 
to forsake evil is real understanding.’”

2 Corinthians 2:13-14 - When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.  But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.


Comments?eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Tongue

T  is for Tongue
1.     the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth of a mammal, used for tasting, licking, swallowing, and (in humans) articulating speech.
2.    Tongue phrases – Tongue in cheek, tongue-tied
3.    Tongue idioms – Hold your tongue, Has the cat got your tongue:, Speak with a forked tongue, A slip of the tongue, Tongue lashing, Sharp tongue, Set tongues wagging, Roll off the tongue, Silver-tongued

On September 13, 2014, we had the joy of hearing the tongues of our granddaughter and new grandson saying, “I do.”  Never have those two words sounded as sweet in the green meadow wedding on that early crisp fall morning.  “I do.” 

“I do” is filled with submission and love.  First, submission is focused on our Lord and Savior and then between the bride and groom.  This moment is in a short time on earth that creates a memory of joy for all time.

We use our tongue every day, for such a tiny organ it has many uses, from moving food in our mouth and swallowing our daily sustenance.  The tongue’s dexterity enables the owner to make music with different instruments.  I remember my brothers learning to blow the trumpet and master the clarinet, and our children learned the flute, saxophone, trumpet and the clarinet while in the band. 

I learned how to sing with the diaphragm, letting my tongue help with the high notes.  We take our tongue for granted until it gets us into trouble.  There are choices to make in the use of the tongue.  There are six things the LORD hates— no, seven things He detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, Proverbs 6:16-18

A lying tongue is second in the list God hates.  I learned early about telling the truth, no matter what.  A lying tongue gets us into more trouble than a truthful tongue.  God hates a lying tongue.

Grandpa Rufus Combs learned in Texas that a man’s word is his bond; no signed paper needed.  My Uncle said, yes, that’s the way we do things out here in the west. If a man’s word ain’t no good, and his name ain’t good, what’s the use of wasting all the paper? I says, “What happened if I sold everything and the mules and took the money and left the country?” He said, “Oh, that’s what t’ got the mesquite trees and lariat ropes for, for those kind of guys.” http://www.combs-families.org/combs/ms/rufus/c-rufus2.htm

Grandpa Combs lived to be 91, and I often think of this verse in reference to him.  For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.  I Peter 3:10  And this one, Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4

James deals with the choices we make on how to use the tongue.  A list of synonyms and idioms are filled with choices not pleasing to God.  When anger and pride reigns our choices are not pleasing to God.  I remember being so angry at one time that my head felt as it was burning.  I recognized that I was out of control.  It was then that I chose not to allow myself to ever, ever be as angry again.  Gentle words combined with a forgiving heart, gives us strength from God.  A good test of conquering anger is the ability to pray for the person for whom you previously felt anger. It takes humility and submission and a conscious choice.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29).

How do we tame our tongues to keep from hurting others and ourselves? 
    Rely on God’s strength to aid us.  (Philippians 4:13)
    Dedicate your heart and tongue to the Lord EACH day.  (Psalm 19:14 - One of Grandma Daisy’s favorite verses.)
    Put your heart in tune with God’s Spirit by daily reading his Word. (Timothy 3: 16-17)
    Meditate on Scriptures that address the power of words (Psalm 119:11)
    Assume responsibility for every word you speak. (Matthew 12:36)
    Ask those around you if you use words that are offensive. (Proverbs 27:6, 17
    Commit yourself to giving a good report and when it is necessary to following Biblical principles of correction. (Matthew 18:15)
    Fulfill past promises, and think carefully before making any new promises.  (Matthew 5:37)
    Ask for forgiveness for any unloving words or attitudes  (Ephesians 4:31-32)
    Learn to speak words that will encourage, comfort, inspire and edify.  (James 3:13) http://iblp.org/questions/how-can-i-learn-control-my-tongue

Scriptures
•  I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.”  Psalm 39:1
• I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me.” Isaiah 45:23
• If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.  James 1:26
• And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  James 3:6
•…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-12



Comments? eacombs@att.net