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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Choosing...

To prepare for Sunday dinner, I made a crust-less Pumpkin Pie, Vanilla Wafer Pudding with chocolate chips and Brownies.  I watched my family painstakingly choose which dessert to eat.  My son followed his father’s example and combined Pumpkin Pie and Vanilla Wafer Pudding.  As a young mother, back in 1950’s, I learned that children should be allowed to make decisions.  So they chose their favorites at Dairy Queen visits, breakfast cereal, and had a lot of free play time.

Life is filled with choices – which always include consequences of each choice. Insignificant choices can reap life-changing consequences from the moment we stand on the playground and choose where to break the Red Rover, Red Rover, let John come over line.  Who we held hands with, how to hold the hands so they wouldn’t break were choices we made and the wrong choice gave us consequences of being led to the opposing line.
As life continues, the choices grow in scope and purpose as resulting consequences loom ever larger. 

Choosing friends, a vocation, a car, a house, a spouse become monumental choices that propel our lives into different paths.  Success in life is not the number of friends on facebook, the number of $$$ we are worth, or the CEO after our name.  Those are fleeting measures of our lives.  True measures of worth are captured in these verses by King Solomon.

The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.  People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.  People who wink at wrong cause trouble, but a bold reproof promotes peace.  Proverbs 10:8-10

Seventy-eight years ago, I made a choice that changed my life.  At the age of eight, I realized I wanted to go to Heaven.  I gave my heart to Jesus and was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I didn’t understand then, and will never understand the full mystery of the joy and peace that entered my heart at that moment.  I learned early that not everyone would understand that choice.  The next day at school when I shared my news with ‘friends’, they scoffed and said, “So?”

Choosing Jesus changed my life in many ways.  All other choices I made, were shaped and formed by that moment when I was eight years old.  What have I learned from that moment of choosing Jesus?
  • Only Jesus was sent to the earth to die on the cross to become a sacrifice for our sins, and was raised again.  John 3:16
  • Only Jesus and the Lord wait to show their love and compassion to us. Isaiah 30:18
  • Only Jesus can teach us how to love like He does and forgive others. I John 4:17
  • Only Jesus knows the way of peace in our hearts. Philippians 4:7
  • Only Jesus leads us in His Way – for He is the Truth and Life and the Way.  John14:6
  • Only Jesus gives us rest and strengthens us in our weakness.  Matthew 11:28
  • Only Jesus promises to take us home to live with Him – John 14:1-4  
  • Only Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  Matthew 16:16
  • Only Jesus knows how to teach us how to love and His way.  Psalm 119:135
  • Only Jesus will give us all we need.  Matthew 6:33
  • Only Jesus gives us light and not darkness.  John 12:46
Seek with all your hearts and choose Jesus!  He is there waiting for you.  He will listen as we pray to Him and we will find Him when we search for Him.  Choosing His Way is not a one-time thing.  Each day there is ever a deeper way in which we choose Him and Him alone.  Jesus gives us Hope to face each day.  He forgives us when we stumble and renews His love for us.

May we open our hearts and choose Jesus and follow Him in all things.  He alone brings us peace, joy, comfort and rest.  Blessed is the Name of Jesus!

When we make the decision to follow Jesus, we have chosen to walk a narrow way of obedience, faith and trust in the only one, Jesus, who brings us safely Home to live with Him for an eternity.



What is the next step….For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!  For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.  Ephesians 5:8-9
Old age has produced the need for nightlights in our home for our physical walk at night to lessen stumbling.  The spiritual light that comes from Jesus needs no batteries or plug-ins or new bulbs.  His light gives us guidance to find our way on this journey through the darkness of this world.
† - Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.  Psalm 25:12
† - Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.  Romans 6:16
† - Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  Deuteronomy 30:19




Comments? eacombs@eacombs@cox.net

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

One Thing

Life is full of waiting. “Sometimes life is like that endless circle on the computer screen going around and around and we are just not loaded and operating like we want to be.”
This quote from a Wisconsin minister resonated with me, since there is a lot of waiting in this household in caregiving – day and night. 

A whirling circle on my computer, and not hooking up on Skype is frustrating.  My son and I have a standing date – to Skype on Monday.  The message we received yesterday was Server is not connected.  I remember in the early days of tube television, when a connection failed, we slapped or hit the offending TV.  Aggressive behavior, and it is easy to extend that behavior to others if we are offended for any reason. 

Life is filled with waiting, and not being connected to our Lord.  It is how we respond to the broken connection that matters all through life.  How many times we want to lash out with impatience, angry words and unkind words to others.  Apostle Paul writes - Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:31-32.

Brant Hansen, in his book, Unoffendable, says - “Anger is extraordinarily easy. It’s our default setting. Love is very difficult. Love is a miracle.” 

The only way we can love like Jesus loves, is to follow and love Jesus – without judgement of others.  Another quote from the book Unoffendable is - “Your life will become less stressful when you give up your right to anger and offense.”  The right to judgement and anger belongs to God alone.  Our right is to obey, follow and love Him, and learn to love others – with a forgiving heart.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 - There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords.  But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.

There is no rationalization we can concoct that makes our anger, our hate, our disapproval and judgement on others just.  Judgement belongs to God alone.  We are not Him. Only when we realize who we are and we accept Jesus as our Savior, can we find peace.  We will falter, lose our way, but we will find peace through the forgiveness of Jesus alone.

Romans 15:7-9 - Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote: “For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;  I will sing praises to your name.”
Philippians 4:7-9 - 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. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Our lifetime is spent learning and processing the WHO God IS to us.  When we are young…we are able to do much for the Lord.  But this can lead to forgetting, it is not what we do for Him, but being His.  Salvation is a free gift.  There is no way to pay our way into eternity.  All our ‘doing’ is simply a response to understanding the unending immensity of the gloriousness of our Lord God. 

Philippians 3:12-14 -  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

As our human strength fails us and we see the end of our lives zooming up to confront us, what can we do to respond to His Great Love?  A saintly older man found a way to serve God, as he lay on the couch trying to calm his heart.  He was no longer able to serve God using his bodily strength.   He held the church directory and prayed for his brothers and sisters in Christ, one by one. The one thing he could do is pray!

King David, a man after God’s own heart said - Psalm 27:3-5 -Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.  Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

The lyrics of the song – One Thing Remains…tugs at my heart to remember….Higher than the mountains that I face - Stronger than the power of the grave - Constant through the trial and the change….One thing… Remains …Your love never fails, never gives up…Never runs out on me …. On and on and on and on it goes - It overwhelms and satisfies my soul - And I never, ever, have to be afraid - One thing remains.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KXsMCJgBQ

“Only one thing does not change.  God is taking care of us.”  A friend from China told me recently as we chatted.



 




Comments? eacombs@eacombs@cox.net

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

ALIVE!

 Rise and Shine!”  I can still hear my Dad’s voice call up the stairs, awakening my two brothers and me from our dreamless night of sleep.  Mother had a more subtle way of waking us up.  She played a rousing march on the piano just under the stairway. How could they be so cheery so early in the morning?  Then later, I remember bounding out of bed in my teens wondering what the day will bring.  The wonder of being alive pulsing through my veins! 

It is when we have hope, that we feel alive. Hope for the future.  Hope for tomorrow.  Hope for life itself.  Hope for the starring role, hope for a promotion, hope to make more money, hope to love and be loved.  Hope always for what is new.  Hope for peace in the world.  Hope!  And we look for hope in the things of the world, when there is a glorious hope in our future beyond our wildest dreams.  The reality of living our days in the true Hope of the World – Jesus - makes us come Alive!!!

When our purpose on earth is clear to us, we become alive with Joy.  Our purpose on earth is to love our Lord Jesus Christ with all our heart, mind and soul. This Joy doesn’t happen when our main activity on earth is to proclaim judgement on others, criticize and complain.  That crushes the desire to love Jesus and being alive in Him. 

What if we hate the place or situation we are in at the present moment. There is no thanksgiving in our hearts, just a “Why Me, it is not fair?”  Last Lord’s Day our minister gave us this thought…God placed me in this place, in this time, with these people – to do His Work. Jesus is our motive, our rationale to be His Servant.  Listening to these words, I understand the coming Alive – as I ponder the how, where, when and whom I love and serve.  There is purpose in my life.  There is alive-ness in my heart.

There is another ‘coming alive’ that gives us Hope without measure.  It is chronicled in the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Scripture.  Jesus was crucified and died on the cross, He was buried in a tomb and after three days, He was raised from the dead and walked among the apostles and others before He ascended.
 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.  “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”  Acts 1:7-11 
Each time I see clouds in the sky promising rain, I wonder….is Jesus returning in the clouds?  Where is Jesus more Alive?  In Heaven seated at the Right Hand of Father God, or here on earth?  Imagine with me a place where there is no evil, or hurting, or tears or dying.  Where is the most alive place to be? With the Lord Jesus Christ. What is the most powerful and alive thing we can hold in our hands?  The Word of God.
For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.   Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.  Hebrews 4:12-13

What is Reality?  It is not earthly things, our Reality is Jesus and his death, burial and resurrection.  All we need to do is say YES to the forever reality and choose His Way.  We do not put this Love of Christ in a box, to take out on Sunday morning, it is His Way of Life.  Christ’s love changes the Who I am, for He, and He alone is my identity.

† -  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  I Corinthians 13:7
† - Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
† - Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
† -  For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.  You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  Colossians 2:12-13
† - For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.  Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.  I Thessalonians 5:9-10

Alive
I was lost with a broken heartYou picked me up, now I'm set apart
From the ash I am born againForever safe in the Saviour's hands
You are more than my words could say….I'll follow you Lord for all my days...I'll fix my eyes, follow in your ways…. Forever free in your unending grace

'Cause You are, You are, You are my freedomWe lift you higher, lift you higherYour love, Your love, Your love never ending
You are alive in usNothing can take your placeYou are all we needYour love has set us free!   (Hillsong)




Comments? eacombs@att.net