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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Steadfast

Steadfast – Stand Firm – Stand Still – Immovable.   In this Day of Change, we long for something that is secure.  Something that will last.  Something we can count on no matter what.  We buy security gadgets for our house, cover the house, our lives and car with insurance, and yet we search for the Unchanging in our world.

Let’s look in God’s Word.  Imagine with me a people who lived under slavery in Egypt for hundreds of years.  Moses, through the power of God, led them out of Egypt.  Were they saved completely from the Egyptians?  The people stood on the banks of the Red Sea; they saw the horsemen and chariots in the distance streaking toward them.  They were terrified as they saw instant death approaching.
† - But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.  Exodus 14:13

Stand still?  What else could they do?  I can see the women weeping and holding their children closely.  Surely Moses spoke in jest, that they would never see the Egyptians again.  What could the Lord do?  Why did they follow Moses anyway?  Behind them, they heard a mighty ‘swoosh’ as the waters heaped up leaving a dry path across the sea.  Who could do this?  Adonai, God the Father, the Creator of all we see every day, parted the water and they passed to the far shore.  They turned back to see another mighty swoosh as the waters closed again over the heads of the Egyptians that had followed them.  Stand Still and Watch the Lord Rescue You Today.  Often the Word of God says Wait. † - Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!  Psalm  27:14

When our world seems to have come to a stand still – as calamity comes upon us through separation, death, a debilitating and terminal disease, we think our world has come to an end.  No one cares, not even God, is what we believe.  It is then the dawn breaks, a sign of the steadfastness of God.  The rising sun is unchangeable.  The seasons change, the rains come, bounteous harvests speak of the steadfastness of God.

My Aunt Irene sent me a card with this verse --† -The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23.  This card greets me each morning and reminds me to give praise and glory to God for His Mercy and Steadfast Love.  This is Hope.  Hope for the new day to give thanks, to remember Him, to see my life through His eyes.  Thank you, Aunt Irene!

Have you ever felt the power of God?  Known the wisdom of His Love?  Had prayers answered?  Known the surety of His love? 

When we visited our daughter and her family in California, the experience I had was life changing.  We went to the beach, walked on the sand.  I gazed out at the curved horizon.  After I removed my shoes and waded into the ocean and stood as the waves pulled at me, threatening to topple me into the water.  I knew I was at the edge of the ‘pull’.  Yet, its strength continued to tug at me.  And I knew a small inkling of the power of God.  The steadfastness of the waves and the power of the waves made me know how real God is.  Can you imagine Jesus calming the storm, or walking on the water?  Can you see Jonah in the midst of the storm?  Remember how Jesus changed the water to wine? 

Then the woman at the well being introduced to living water…† - Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”  John 4:10-12

I stood in the ocean that summer day, feeling God’s power, remembering, and knowing that God created every drop of water, and gave his Son, Jesus to give me the understanding of eternity with Him.  No pain, no tears, no dying. 

Life is a series of choices – each of us make the ultimate choice of faith and trust in God.  If we have choose life, we have it abundantly.  † - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

† - Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58
† - But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  Psalm 13:5
† - All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.  Psalm 25:10
† -  For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  Isaiah 54:10
† -  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  Colossians 4:2
† - May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
† - Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4
† - Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
† - Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.  James 5:11
† - For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7



Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Facets of Hope

I hope it rains.  I hope we can have dinner on time.  I hope you are ready when it is time to go.  I hope I sleep well tonight.  I hope I get well.  I hope, I hope, I hope….

Where does hope come from?  Where can we find hope when all seems hopeless?  Is hope an empty wish or a prayer?  Hope is the encouragement to live, to dream, and to build a life on joy here on earth.  What makes hope a desired state of being?  When we desire the truth of hope, we go to the Book of Truth. 

Hope is part of a list in I Corinthians 13:7-8, For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:12-13 

Hope is built on faith and love and will continue for infinity and a forever.  It has no end. Without faith, there is no hope and without love there is no hope. 

King David knew the essence and genesis of hope.  The Psalms is the book where we find hope:    
† - And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:7
† - Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.  Psalm 33:22
† - Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 42:11

In those three verses we find our only hope is in God.  We learn that his love is unfailing and surrounds us.  We do not place our hope in anything or anyone else.  And we learn that another facet of hope is praising God for how he loves us so much that our trust is completely in Him.  Just as a child trusts his earthy father, we trust our Father in Heaven. 

† - Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  Romans 12:12
The world tells us to be Happy!  But the rhyme or reason for hope dissipates unless we have faith in God the Father.

† - I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

The Holy Spirit lives within each of us who place our faith in Jesus Christ.  How does this come about?  Through the sacrificial, unconditional love when God gave His One and only Son.

† - 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

These two verses is the good news, the Gospel in a nutshell.  These two verses give us hope when we are in the depths of despair of mourning, separation and sickness.  And there is more….there is the Fruit of that Holy Spirit that brings us to the flowing fountain of hope through Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self-Control. (Galatians 5:22-23

This quote says it all from C.S. Lewis:  And for us this was the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. (Chronicles of Narnia)

Jehovah God’s story is one of great steadfast love.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become a part of His Story of Love.  We are each a chapter in God’s Story living in an unending joy, unending hope in God’s Truth.  We are all invited to love Jesus, but we are not forced to love him.  It is our choice.  How much easier it is to turn to Jesus, than to go on this life’s journey alone without our source of Hope. 

One of the most desired feelings we have is belonging and acceptance.  In Christ Jesus there is no rejection or loneliness for He loves us unconditionally and longs for us to return that love.  Love comes from God and makes the world light up, and in turn when we love God and His Son, we are a shining light for Jesus to those around us.

† - 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

The Facets of Hope have so many reflections of His Light.  Faith, Love, Trust, Light, the Fruit of the Spirit and we learn to live in a process of growth to be more like Jesus and know Him.  What does it look like?  Hugs, Smiles, and a Helping Hand over the rough places – is being Jesus to others. This Jesus-Hope is a process.  It is a strengthening of who we are in Him.  † - And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  Romans 5:4 

† - All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.  I Peter 1:3



Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Promises

“O promise me, that someday you and I will take our love together to some sky, Where we can be alone and faith renew… Oh promise me, Oh promise me….”

These lyrics were written in 1887, and used at weddings until about 1970’s.  This declaration of promise was the standard song to sing when I was asked to sing at a wedding.  I often wondered about the word ‘promise’ and the finality of commitment and trust that it contains.  What a lovely thought - romantic and peaceful. 

Promises are serious, just ask any child who has had a broken promise to live through with her parents either by the child or the parents.  A broken promise is more than words.  A broken promise creates a crevice of hurt and betrayal between two people.  A broken promise can tear the fabric of a family apart.  No matter how the moirĂ©s of culture try to change the act of marriage.  Being married fifty years or more becomes a matter of celebration.  It signifies a promise made before God and man, kept through times of sorrow, times of hurt and times of complete joy.

Yesterday I wished my brother, Happy Birthday, and realized the longevity of our relationship.  I don’t remember a cross word between us.  Eight score years plus, and our relationship is based on truth, and unwritten promise of family love. My husband will celebrate 64 years of marriage in February.  Longevity of relationships happen through the love of God.

But there is another relationship that is built on a promise, a commitment.  The promise I made when I was eight years old to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all of my mind and all of my soul.  Often I strayed from living my promise to God, yet I always return to the One who loved me first. 

You, Oh, God, have loved me, taught me and led me in your Way.  Your promises fill me with joy as I live expectantly and relish all Your promises.  You spoke the universe and our earth into being.  You have given your promises in your Word – your Words.  I believe.  I trust.  I have faith.  I live expectantly in Hope each day and give praise through the darkest times.

The verses of John 14 have given me so much joy when troubles threaten to over come me.  “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  John 14:1-4

Promises our God will keep and has kept increase our Love and Faith.  Does the world seem unsure?  Do troubles overwhelm?  There is a surety with faith in God.  When we are sealed to God through the blood of Jesus, we are His.   

† - And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

The following are promises we can rely on and believe.  Read and rejoice in the One who loves us so.
† - For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.   2 Corinthians 1:20
† -My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
† - 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
† - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29
† - 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
† - And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19
† - “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  John 14:27
† - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23
† - But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”  Proverbs 1:33
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.
† - 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.  These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.  2 Peter 2:4

Each promise we find in His Word is a jewel that makes our lives sparkle with Joy and Hope and Peace.  May our Blessed God be glorified!

Comments? eacombs@eacombs@cox.net

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Forever and Ever

Have you ever wondered how long forever is?  Can you even measure the length of forever?  Is it longer than working in the field on a hot July day?  Is it longer than sitting by the bedside of a very ill loved one through the night?  Is it longer than a long walk home on an icy night?
That kind of ‘earthly forever’ carries pain and angst and need, there is another forever that is eternal.  The first forever has the promise of answered prayer and learning to love and trust the eternal forever. 
We look at the number of days, weeks, months and years we have to live – and when we are young we are deluded into thinking we are invincible and can continue forever.  The reality is that we will live for a brief period of time on this earth.  As old age creeps on us, we have difficulty in seeing ourselves turn from a vibrant life to a guarded life of less movement, from the top of our gray or bald heads to our aching feet, we are becoming old.
What hope is there?  Is this all there is?  It doesn’t take long to find out the part of a person that never grows old is his inner spirit.  The inner spirit can differ depending on what one takes value in.  When there is value found in truth and love and faith, that person becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. The spirit of that person becomes a ‘forever more’ soul, destined for Heaven for a life with God.
Abraham is a hero of faith.  He believed in God and his life changed.  For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.  Romans 4:3.  Although it may seem a mystery – just what did Abraham do?  He listened, he believed, he trusted, he worshiped and he obeyed without question.

Moses, another man of faith, led the children of Israel from Egypt, the land of slavery.  When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses. Exodus 14:31   Later God tested their faith.  Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.   So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:23-25
For forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.  Their trek lengthened into forty years because they did not heed God’s Words.  It was their pain and angst, and it seemed as if it lasted forever and ever, placing one foot ahead of another, day after day.  Moses, their caretaker, a man of faith, was faithful to care for these obstinate people.  Did he become impatient?  Yes, but he continued to faithfully obey God.  He felt the earthly ‘forever complex’.
There is one thing that lasts for an eternity – that is what Abraham did -  He listened, he believed, he trusted, he worshiped and he obeyed without question.

So how long is eternity, really?  Forever and ever?  We have guarantees on cars and appliances – and they are guaranteed for 2 years to 5 years.  But there is one thing that is guaranteed even when time is outmoded.  In Psalms we find... Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. ...  Psalm 136:1
His faithful LOVE endures forever.  Not hate, not war, not anger, not revenge – but Love.
- This verse refers to God’s Forever - Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  I Corinthians 13:13
Allelujah and Amen and Amen!

- The Lord is king forever and ever! The godless nations will vanish from the land.  Psalm 10:16
- You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you
forever Psalm 16:11
- Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23:6
- Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.  Psalm 37:18
- I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. Revelation 1:18
- They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.”  Revelation 7:12
- He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4
These verses bring me a sense of God’s forever and ever.  These verses bring me the hope that is in Christ Jesus.  These verses tell the time of the future that travels into the infinity.  Then there is one more verse that ‘lightens my life with hope to carry on…”.
-  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@eacombs@cox.net