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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

HOPE-Living

Color is an integral part of the creation. Without God, there would be no color or anything else. There would not be different skin colors. Interesting that blood in our bodies bleeds red no matter what color the skin color is.

Once, a music teacher equated different colors to various musical instruments.  Giving each student a sheet of paper and different colored crayons, she gave the instructions.  Color what you hear, no picture, just scribble on the paper the color the sound of the trombones, trumpets, clarinets, drums, violins or other instrument you hear.  Then she began playing the recording of the Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe. 

Mom gave me a set of water paints when I was seven years old.  I was enthralled at seeing all the colored paints in the box and began to paint.  I didn’t know that drying was part of the process of painting.  Soon, after painting with every different color, without drying, I soon had a muddle of wet brown in the center of my thin paper.  It takes the Creator to make glorious color that speaks to our hearts.

Often I wonder at living in a world without the sense of sight and losing the joy of God’s creation around me.  Why do we take extraordinary pictures, and why do multiple painting exist by artists who had no other way to express the joy of praising God, except by painting images of His Creation.

Many years ago, I watched my mother exulting in the beauty of the flowers blooming in her garden.  To me, then, a flower was just a flower.  Since then, I have learned to enjoy the complex designs and the shades of God-colors all around me. 

Imagine living in the time of Noah, when God created a multi-colored rainbow that we now  know encircles the earth when it appears.  It is His Promise of Love to the people of the earth – a foundational message, “I love you!”

When our pastor introduced a quote taken from, The Colors of Hope: Becoming People of Mercy, Justice and Love, by Richard Dahlstrom, it spoke to me.  The quote? Our hope calls us to be Agents of Hope, a well of water -  living water springing up. 

How can we be Agents of Hope?  LOVE!  Loving God and loving others unconditionally is the essence of Hope shared.  In a world cluttered with hate, deceit and the desire for power, Love is rare.  Love that envelops us with kindness and gentleness that brings distress to those who do not know God.  Clean the clutter of the world with faithfulness to Jesus, who loves by following Him. He is a servant of all and was crucified, beaten and scourged because of his forever-love.  Jesus did this to be the blood sacrifice for our sins of all people past and all people now and in the future.   He conquered death by being raised from the dead on the 3rd day. 

A reviewer of the book writes: Those who wish to paint with hope must be observant. Dahlstrom writes about his friendship with a master painter and art teacher. One of the first tasks the painter needed to accomplish with her students was teaching them to see the detail of their subjects. It wasn't enough to notice a shadow, the students needed to see the rich gradient of shades that made up the shadow. In the same way, we need to be sure that we're actually seeing people as God sees them. Richard offered practical and wise ways to notice how we label, judge, and categorize others. The book provided me with a fresh challenge to see and enjoy people for who they are without judgment.
When I began painting with a friend several years ago, we spent hours creating large murals on the wall.  We began observing varied gradients and shades of color in all of nature.  Trying to capture the reality of God’s Creation became the goal of our painting and telling stories and messages in paint.
Painting with Hope-Living is not pronouncing black judgments on others, but observing each one with love and hope and faith, the primary colors of God.  Our perspective changes when we love with hope and pray for others.  When we love others with the Jesus kind-of-love, we give others the chance to enjoy being real and open to our Father in Heaven.  It’s not my fault’ or ‘It’s not fair’ are two phrases that will not be used.  Everyone should’ condemnations are no more.
When fear, disaster, illness, impending death, the black color comes upon us, we are painted by a black hopeless.  Cover the Trust-in-Jesus color across our minds and hearts and watch the black despair turn to the color of hope.  And notice that the color of peace that comes harmonizes your heart to God Himself. 
-       When we have learned not to give up, it shows we have stood the test. When we have stood the test, it gives us hope.  Romans 5:4
-        I have told you these things so you may have peace in Me. In the world you will have much trouble. But take hope! I have power over the world!” John 16:33
-        We are waiting for the hope of being made right with God. This will come through the Holy Spirit and by faith. Galatians 5:5
-        We thank God for the hope that is being kept for you in heaven. You first heard about this hope through the Good News  which is the Word of Truth.  Colossians 1:5
-        Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.  Hebrews 11:1
-        Let us thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through His loving-kindness that we were born again to a new life and have a hope that never dies. This hope is ours because Jesus was raised from the dead. I Peter 1:3
-        We are to be looking for the great hope and the coming of our great God and the One Who saves, Christ Jesus. Titus 2:13



Comments?  eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Way That He Loves

There are many ways to love and I grew up watching a love story between my mother and father.  How often I would be embarrassed as a teen watching them hold hands where my peers could see.  Their love enveloped us in a childhood of sheltered love.  Mother often told me of her dream of a small house with a white picket fence around it.  This is precisely the first home I remember as a pre-schooler with three rooms – you could see from the front door through to the back door.  I played outside happily in the safe confines of that white picket fence.

If someone could bottle or box love, they would have a corner on the market in today’s world.  This world is wearyin’ of the way it is now.  So filled with cynicism, lies, hate of all kinds and corruption and the ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality. We are searching for the little white house with a picket fence and hollyhocks in the flowerbed with a rose bush by the front door kind-of-life. Someone wrote and sang these lyrics and it is no less true now:  What the world needs now is love, sweet love, It's the only thing that there's just too little of, What the world needs now is love, sweet love, No not just for some but for everyone…

How do I love thee, let me count the ways… is the way Elizabeth Barrett Browning began her poem published in 1850.  It continues - I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight, and ends…I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.

The love of God…. Begins with faith…believing in what we cannot see except with our hearts.  We know without a doubt that He is, and He is the one who created the world, the universe and us, soul by soul, year after year.  Poets describe love between those who love….
Where does love begin?  It comes from GodAnyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. I John 4:8.  When we cut ourselves off from God, we cut ourselves away from the essence of love. 

I love the verse that tells how much God loves:  It is a forever kind of love.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

God’s love through Jesus Christ is forever – when we choose to respond to His love. This kind of love is not the way we love each other.  The ways we love is often filled with deceit, impatience, unforgiveness, anger and moments of questions as to why and asking where and when our first love disappeared.

When we study how God loves and learn why God is love!  We are beginning a quest that changes our lives.  The immensity of his love is shown by his words: in John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Later in John 8:32, Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”

When I heard these lyrics – I was captured by the thought, The way that He loves is…The way that He loves is as fair as the day, That blessed my way with love, The way that He loves is as soft as the breeze, Arresting the trees at night.

The way that He loves is as deep as the sea, His spirit shall be my stay, The way that He loves is as pure as a rose, Much sweeter He grows each day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdKCjLDnRw8 and https://www.youtube.com/watchv=CblRS6mLZWo&ebc=ANyPxKoi_jta2NOWn0HDOkeUCOQ7ZoTWMYHOJgFDowpfMhqfD5heZ4ESP-2YcxTldS9lbSqIAnKkvAV4Ee51n3y5--Rtzdyk-g

What is love made up of?  Love-learning is like learning a new language and a new way to live.  Love is consists of Faithfulness, trust, truth, peace, joy, goodness, gentleness, kindness, patience, forgiveness, faithfulness and self-control, these ways of His love comes from the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Consider each of the verses below carefully.
- Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.  Micah 7:18-19
- Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:1-5
- What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
- For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1-3

- By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.  John 15:8-10




Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Blessed Be the Lord!

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!  Psalm 106:46

One of my early memories was of Mom’s voice ringing out in praise, singing, Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen.

When I attended a wedding later in life, the spoken blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob came to life.  The Father of the Bride spoke a blessing over his daughter and his son-in-law prior to the ceremony that made them one!  It was a moving experience for everyone who attended. 

What is a blessing…? “The act or words of one that blesses,” or “a thing conducive to happiness or welfare.”  Synonyms are protection and favor from God.  In Hebrew the word bless means ‘to bow the knee’ in showing reverence, awe to an important person. God – “from Whom all blessings flow.” 

Praising God for the ways God cares for us becomes a blessing for us in many ways.  He blesses us, so that we will bless others in acts of kindness, love and forgiveness or words that show God’s love. 

The hymn I learned years ago, contains these words…. Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing, Out of my life, May Jesus shine; Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray, I pray Thee, my Savior, Make me a blessing to someone today.

Several years ago, I realized that I am nearer to the age of no more driving.  I pray for safety as I learn to drive in a new city.  I thank God when I arrive at my destination safely.  I feel His Presence beside me…and praise Him along the way. 

Have you ever taken a breath of air early in the morning and realize God has given you another day to be a blessing to someone today.  Romans 12:14-16 gives us the way to be a blessing to someone each day.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

God blessed Abraham in all things.  Abraham gave all he had to Isaac.  He blessed Isaac even as God blessed him.  The story of Isaac blessing his son, Jacob, instead of his firstborn, Esau, is found in Genesis 27:28-29.  May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

Isaac didn’t have any steps or ‘how-to’ to give Jacob his blessing.  However, The Blessing, by Smalley and Trent, who have crystalized some clear cut ways of blessing spouse, children, parents and church family members. 

They have set forth five different elements of a meaningful blessing:
1.  A Meaningful Touch that communicates warmth, personal acceptance and affirmation.
2.  A Spoken Message that includes words of love and acceptance.
3.  Attaching a high Value to the one being blessed that portray honor on who they are.
4.  Picturing a special Future for the one being blessed that indicates a special future.
5.  An Active Commitment to fulfill the blessing is a responsibility that underlines to help in many ways day by day.

The book, The Blessing, also has an example of using a scriptural blessing:  How blessed (Name) will be because you do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor do you sit in the seat of scoffers.  But as your parents, we have see you delight in the law of the Lord.  You have been thinking about His law day and night.  May God make you (Name) like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.  May God allow you to grow and bear His fruit in His season and life will not wither and whatever you shall do, it will prosper!  Psalm 1

Jesus blessed His Father in Heaven while on earth.
-Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing.  Matthew 14:19
·       -Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  Matthew 26:26

And more scriptures with ‘blessing’ that reminds us of His Power and Majesty and Love.
·      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.  Ephesians 1:3
·       So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.  Galatians 3:14
·       Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  I Peter 3:9
·       And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”  Revelation 5:13

·       And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”  Revelation 7:11-12



Comments? eacombs@att.net