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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Trust without Borders

During the worship service, I heard these lyrics: Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters, Wherever you would call me, Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, And my faith would be made stronger, In the presence of my Savior.  Oh, Jesus, You are my God! (Hillsong United) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J4jgTzKyk8

Suddenly it clicks.  We have personal borders, governments have borders, cultures have borders.  We even have borders for God – He should give me ‘space’, right?   Reading a 40 Day devotional by the same title by Arabah Joy, I am intrigued by the quote, We practice faith and we live by trust.  Trust has no borders.

What does it take to practice faith?  What is faith and where does faith come from?  Where does trust come from? Questions swirl around my head that are of eternal importance in this world where cultures vie for a permanent disobedience.  What happens when the laws of a country demand obedience counter to one’s faith and walk in God?

Where does faith come from?  Believing is the genesis of faith.  Believing what? In truth?  Where do we find truth?  Whose truth do we believe?  The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 lists those who believed God and knew God and trusted God.  The chapter begins with the understanding of faith - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Each faith story begins….By Faith!  Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab and many more lived by faith and depended on God.  Each one believed God’s Word.  They had no doubts about who to trust – they made the choice to trust. 

From 1870 – 1880, German colonists came from Russia to America.  Among them were my great-grandparents.  They left West Prussia for Russia when they were invited by the Queen Catherine of Russia of that time.  As the leadership of the country changed, so did the laws, and the immigrants were not left alone to worship and live according to their faith in God.  Once again they searched for a place of freedom and came to America.  As a little girl I often wondered how they could travel such a great distance.  They believed the promises of God.  They trusted in their faith in God.  One of my earliest memories became one of my favorite memory pictures.  We were together with my grandparents in their living room.  The Christmas story in Luke 2 was read and it was time to pray.  I watched as grandparents, aunts and uncles, my parents all rose and knelt in prayer.  The prayers were not read, they were from the heart.  I listened to the prayers of thanksgiving and petitions, one my one.  Curious, I opened my eyes to see all of my dear relatives kneeling in a circle of faith, their feet pointed to the center of the room in a time of consecration and joy, and I remember.  Their faith continued to be strong, even as their grandparents’ faith.  Despite the uncertainty of travel and what they would find in the new land, they followed God’s leading and became an inspiration and legacy for their children through many generations.  Generations where Christ’s love and forgiveness is lived.

You call me out upon the waters, The great unknown where feet may fail, And there I find You in the mystery, In oceans deep, my faith will stand….

My world was shaken when my parents decided to move to another town.  At 16 years of age, this meant a different set of friends and leaving my church home.  Dad had an opportunity to be a rural mail carrier and this was ideal for him.  I didn’t realize then the pressures he felt to take care of his family in this new home. The first Christmas, Mom apologized for giving the three of us children just one gift, a pair of mittens she had knitted.  I still have one of those mittens from 1945, a testimony to her love and trust in God.

And I will call upon Your name, And keep my eyes above the waves, When oceans rise,  My soul will rest in Your embrace, For I am Yours and You are mine….

One by one, my grandparents died, my parents died, and then one of my children died.  I found that God’s Grace only grows stronger. The diagnosis of Dementia for my husband.  changed our life style and a move to be near one of dear children.  When our four children came to make this move a reality, I was overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness.  Age and frailty becomes a reality for each of us.  These are the deep waters we traverse when faith and trust is of essence.  Expectant living of what God has in store for us, gives us the clarity of trust in our LORD God. 

Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand, Will be my guide, Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.

I watch my children and pray for them as their faith continues to grow ever stronger through the twists and turns of their lives and choices.  Their trust in God is reflected in their children’s lives, one by one.  They make moves to new locations that test their trust in God and yet their faith they practice turns into a stronger trust in our Lord God.  Though we only see one step ahead, we know Who holds our hand and Who leads us through the darkness to the precious Light. 

So I will call upon Your name, And keep my eyes above the waves, When oceans rise.  My soul will rest in Your embrace, For I am Yours and You are mine.

What would happen if you really believed and trusted God?  You would be living with a life of Hope. God’s Promises…are found in the Word of God.  There are many more than these…
Romans 5:1 - Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:3 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
John 6:35 - Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters  Wherever You would call me, Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander  And my faith will be made stronger, In the presence of my Savior, Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!



Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Abundantly

Family memories were filled with intermittent picnics.  Dad and Mom had a desire to find a beautiful shade tree in Oklahoma where trees are sparse.  The purpose was to enjoy the shade and have a picnic.  On this particular day, I watched Mom prepare.  My blue eyes were on the peaks of chocolate fudge frosting of the 13 X 9 chocolate cake.  Nothing better than Mom’s Chocolate Cake.  My mouth still waters when I think of chocolate fudge frosting.  This evening, we searched for a good shade tree, and a place to make a campfire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  My two brothers and I were ready for the fun.  As we finished the hot dogs, Mom turned to me and said, “You can cut the cake!”  I was ecstatic.  Mom trusted me at 9 years old to cut the Chocolate Cake.  I counted the number of people present, Dad, Mom, my two little brothers and one visitor.  Ah, that worked.  Six pieces of cake would do it.  Mom was a little aghast when she saw the huge pieces.  I didn’t know the word Abundance, but the pieces of cake were abundant…did I mention one inch of chocolate fudge frosting?

That was before I read these verses…..Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

How can this be?  To me ‘abundance’ had to do with an over-amount of anything.  According to the dictionary it is a very large quantity of something.  Is abundance a good thing or a bad thing?  With chocolate there is a balance.  I looked at the synonyms – affluence, plethora, prosperity, riches, wealth, bounty, myriad, plenty.  Not satisfied, I wondered about this word. It is not in common usage today.  Is it what we can see or what we cannot see?

Is it the big house, the car larger than the neighbor’s car, a large bank account, a fashionable wardrobe?  What is our goal in life?  Is it to have these things?  Is it our measure of success?  If so, then we begin running the marathon to nowhere.  “The faster we pace our lives, the less we feel God’s presence.” (Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy)

If our goal in life is to ‘get’, this verse is interesting, another view, another way - give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38

Abundance, abundantly, abundant – do you recall singing, “Count your blessings, name them one by one?”  Before I even knew what a blessing was or how to count them, I wondered…  Then during the times of sorrow, grief, trial, I realized the why of these lyrics.  When I counted my abundant blessings, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, my heart swelled with thanksgiving.  No matter how difficult the days become, no matter what happens, I know the abundant Presence of God in my life. 

Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord will Provide), Adonai (Lord), Yahweh-Elohim (LORD God), names of our Almighty God and abundantly go together.  In the following verses look for the words, peace, delight, mercy, goodness, life, pardon, comfort and salvation.  These are what God gives abundantly to those who love and serve him:

• In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.  But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.  Psalm 37:10-11
• Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.  Psalm 69:16
• Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.  Psalm 31:19-20
• The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 9:10-11
• Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  Isaiah 55;7
• For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  2 Corinthians 1:5-6

Our abundance in this world is of the heart, the soul and mind – and comes from our Creator.  Yahweh is our God and He is Sovereign.  Last Lord’s Day I listened to the lyrics that touched my heart and worshipped Jehovah-Jireh. Sovereign (Chris Tomlin).
Sovereign in the mountain air/ Sovereign on the ocean floor/ With me in the calm/ With me in the storm.    Sovereign in my greatest joy/ Sovereign in my deepest cry/ With me in the dark/ With me in the dawn/   In your everlasting arms/ All the pieces of my life/ From beginning to the end/ I can trust you.  In your never failing love/ You work everything for good/  God whatever comes my way, I will trust you/  All my hopes/ All I need/ Held in your hands. All my fears/ All my dreams/  Held in your hands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMTG13qVY3g

Who is this Yahweh, who is the LORD of peace and joy unending?  Who is it that I trust to the end of my days?  The One who is Able and makes my life, even in the midst of turmoil, worth living through Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 
 The Promise:   
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”  John 10:28-30



Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Re-Location

Over 2000 miles away, our daughter and our husband have been in the process to a new location because of new job.  From afar, I have observed all the lists of ‘to-do’s’ that have been made.  The only help I can give is pray.  The final walk-through of the house, and one ‘last paper’ is signed and faxed.  After the culmination of selling their home, sorting and packing, vacating their home and ‘camping’ in a temporary location, they wait to find a new home while most of their furniture and belongings have ‘camped’ out in a storage area.  It has been two and half months and finally they have keys to their new home.  Yesterday our daughter walked through their home as the new owner, alone – and prayed for God’s blessings.  What a beautiful way to ‘make yourself at home’ – acknowledging our Heavenly Father’s Presence.  The papers are signed and the commitment is made for the loan.  It is done, except for the final moving day. 

As I contemplated the cost of time, effort and money it has taken, I remembered my favorite Bible verses from John 14:1-4.  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

These verses signify relocation of a spiritual sort with a promise.  I compare the world relocation and the spiritual relocation. No moving company on earth could provide the same service.  In Re-Locating to Heaven there is no concern or worry, no packing, no detailed list-making, not procuring help, no concern about possessions, no concern about where we will be.  It is all there in the spiritual re-location - In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

As I considered this, I remembered when we moved two years ago, one of the added concerns was finding a doctor, dentist and eye doctor.  No need for these in Heaven – for we will have new bodies.  Plus finding a church home and a grocery store.  Again, these are provided. Add to this finding a space for our belongings we kept. We travel light when we re-locate to Heaven. Light bulbs will not grow dim – for Jesus is the light.  There are many things I wonder about a spiritual relocation – yet, I trust God. 

Finally, after a year here, I notice a possession is missing.  A sewing machine.  Where could it be?  Does it matter? Is it the idea that an item I once owned is no longer available? Moving in the world brings change – like when the old dining table fell apart on the move or will our mail find us, will our internet ever be hooked up so we can communicate?  Not a concern in Heaven.

A picture of relocating to Heaven…is accomplished through Jesus Christ.  He explains through his apostles what needs to happen before that grand relocation.  Our list of to-do’s is simply a mind-set, choosing Jesus, with all of our hearts.  We choose to hear and believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God.  No holding back…an all-in mind-set gives us the vision of our Goal.  Choosing gives us the ability to hear God’s Words believing. God spoke the universe into being.  Only through that belief can our mind truly understand how to trust God’s leading in our lives.  For if we believe that God is able to create our universe in seven days, He is able to care for us no matter what is happening – in sickness, in poverty and in death.

What does it take to move?  Faith.  Not just any faith or belief, but faith in God, Jehovah. Yahweh.  As I ponder faith, I realize that Faith is believing God is, God can, God will, for God is all powerful and faithful.  In the Old Testament, who had the most Faith? Abraham, Moses or Elijah?  Elijah was available to God, and God used him.  Then the angel of the Lord came to Elijah, “Go down with him’ do not be afraid of him.”  So he arose and went down to the king.  2 King 1:15.  Moses was a man of great humility, he did not try to justify himself, he allowed God speak for him.  When the children of Israel became stiff-necked, he offered his own life as he interceded for them.  Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth.”  Numbers 12:3 

Abraham did nothing, yet got everything.  He simply received by faith.  He never questioned, simply believed God.  He believed, though he was 99 years old. God began this conversation with Abraham by introducing himself as God Almighty and commanded him to walk blameless before him. God makes a covenant with Abraham to multiply him greatly and make him into a great nation and give him the land of Canaan.  God changed his name from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah.  God Almighty changed Abraham’s whole life, and Abraham believed.  God changes our lives when we believe and follow His Son Jesus.

He believed when God said to sacrifice his only son and believed God would provide a lamb for the sacrifice.  Abraham believed when God said for him to re-locate in Canaan.  He left his home and traveled, because he believed God.  I often wonder… no restaurants along the way, never sure of food or water, or a motel?  Yet, Abraham never deviated from his focus, from what God asked of him. 

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  James 2:22-24
• And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath.  Hebrews 6:15-17
• By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  Hebrews 11:7-9


• Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:7-9

Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The New Leaf

Every Spring I watch for the buds on the crab apple trees in the back yard, the new blades of iris that slowly emerge from the ground, the brilliant yellow of Daffodils and Forsythia that announce Spring.  Somehow God paints the earth in brilliant colors. Each Spring is like a chorus of trumpets sounding the song of newness.  Each new leaf and flower is a grace note in the Melody of Spring.  It is a time of celebration.

I think back on all the ‘news’ of my life.  They are the ‘firsts’ that made changes, such as learning to read, singing a solo, first piano recital, learning to swim and learning to milk a cow and bake a chocolate cake.  Looking back, I can see God’s hand guiding me.

Then there was marriage and the newness of a close relationship that has lasted 63 years and the babies that followed.  I glory in their achievements and seeing them grow and then the grandchildren arrive – more joy.    

What happens when we no longer see the new of life, but see only the old?  The old way and the mistakes we have made with its bitterness.  Our life becomes drudgery, pain and a wall of weariness blocks our joy. When Spring comes, we can’t see growth or God’s joyous creation surround us.  We become blind and close our ears to life and dread the next calamity, for there is no longer joy.

My mother and I visited one day.  She told me her secret for joy and enthusiasm for life.  Each morning as she opened her eyes she greets her Lord Jesus, saying, Lord, I give you today.  Place those in my path that you want me to speak to and serve.  Let these hands do your bidding. 

Mom moved to a new town, a new home, a new church, leaving the old when she was in her eighty’s.  Her enthusiasm and joy for life with her Lord simply turns a new leaf each day, a new page, and a new season of life.   Mom loves Psalm 37, and verse 23 says -- The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.

Mom loved nothing better than to write poetry, write prose and write music that praised God.  She taught me to play the piano and many songs.  When she learned a new song, it was with her whole heart. Music was her love language to God just as it was for King David.  Though she is gone from this earth now, I know her faulty alto voice has blossomed into a lovely contralto.  Her arthritic fingers have moved to a harp without losing a beat.

Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds.  His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!  Psalm 98:1

A new song…what better way to tell of God’s mighty deeds than through a song…. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.  Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.  Psalm 96:3. 

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  I Corinthians 4:16-18

When I read this scripture, I can hear music.  Do you hear it?  Our song…no rests…just singing.
We never give up, we never give up, we never give up.
Our spirits are being renewed every day.
For our present troubles are small and won’t last long
Yet they produce glory that lasts forever and always.

How can we begin the renewal of seeing the things that last forever? 
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2
Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
Galatians 6:14b – 16

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.  Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.  When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.  So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:3-11

We fix our eyes and our hope on the One and Only who is Life.  Greater is the One in us, We will never give up. 

Comments? eacombs@att.net