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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fenced in by HOPE

When I grew up, for the first 6 years, we had a yard surrounded by a picket fence. This was our world.  A sand pile, our pet goat and my two brothers and I were content. 

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5 This is the verse Mom read to me once.  The word ‘hem’ caught my attention. I often saw Mom hemming a new garment.  Rolling the material with the silver flashing through the material with tiny stitches.

Then I read the Easy Read Version -- You are all around me—in front of me and behind me.  I feel your hand on my shoulder.  This version widened my understanding.  God is all around us.  Walking and talking with God, and I feel his Presence near me.  His love envelopes me and fences me in.  He has a plan for me, and slowly but surely His plan comes to be in my heart and life.  It is all for Him.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13.   These three things last forever beyond the end of time.  The last shall be first…Love.  Because God is love, and loves even me, I believe and have faith in Him, the Giver of Life.  The third circle that intersects love and faith is hope.  A hope that spans time and beyond.

How can this be?  For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.  John 1:17.  Who is this God who loves us  with a steadfast love.  Who is this God whose voice alone, created the world we live in, the sun and the moon and the stars so high in the sky?   The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
  The Lord thunders over the mighty sea. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.  Psalm 29:3-4.

I find joy in each flower that blooms, each bird that flies so high in the sky, the moon that shines in my window early in the morning.  I rejoice at the sight of the glory of the rainbow for it tells me that God loves me.  Each dawning of the day, I praise His Name.  The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.  Psalm 29:11.

In the evening dusk as the sun dips out of view, I say good night the One who loves each of us, and I am given His peace, and know I can trust Him.  In many ways, He sent messengers during the day He sends messengers that let me know I am fenced in His hope.  Though troubles surround me, I can sleep in peace as He watches over me.  I may not know what the next day holds nor the next moment.  Yet His Word speaks to me, from Psalm 4:8 - In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me. 

Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises. Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. Isaiah 66:8-9.  When I falter and stumble, I will look up and praise His name.

I find joy and thanksgiving in each of my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and those who come after.  Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.  Psalm 127:3

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.

How many reasons are there to love God?  Ten Thousand reasons and more.  Being loved by the Lover of my Soul, The giver of Peace and Joy.  Just being His, in every moment, learning, constantly learning, He IS the Mighty God Who see others’ hearts with love and teaching me to love others the same way. 

I look at my brother or sister in Christ, and I can know what God sees in them.  To be forgiven when I sin and learn how to forgive others is another reason.  To know that when I stray, God will chase after me and draw me into the fence of his love, forgiveness and hope.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul, Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name, Sing like never before
Oh my soul, I'll worship Your Holy name.
You're rich in love, And You're slow to anger
Your name is great, And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons, For my heart to find.
Myrin/Redman -

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.  Romans 7:13:8
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
 Galatians 5:14 - You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 
I Corinthians 13:7 -Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
2 Thessalonians 2:16 - Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Second Chances

When Spring was announced in March 2016, I waited breathlessly (impatiently) for the blooms on the Crab Apple trees in the backyard.  They didn’t burst forth in all their luscious blooms until 3 weeks later.  I caught my breath when I stare outside in wonder and delight of all the signs of Spring our God created. 

Even the lowly Dandelion was exclaimed over.  Its yellow face smiled at me as I walked by.  What is it about the Spring Season that brings me joy?  It brings me a second chance to see the Glory of God here on earth. 

I thought of all the Springs I have enjoyed, and each is one more chance to celebrate!  Eighty-six Springs.  I remember sighting a June Bug with an iridescent bug crawling on the driveway with its delightful colors.  I was seven years ago.  I knew the bug appeared just to celebrate my birthday, even carrying the month of my birth in its name.  A bug God created just for me.

Spring brings new beginnings, new growth and a new outlook from the drab colors of black and white winter.  A rejoicing that wells deep in the heart.  Each new leaf, each bud on a plant waiting to burst into bloom creates energy, wonder and expectation.   A new chance to remember…

As I gazed at the trees dressed in its finery, I think about what it is like to have a second chance in life.  Then I remember the second chances that God gives us to be His children.  There is no one righteous, no, not one.  (Romans 3:10)  For all have sinned. (Romans 3:23)   God provides a way for us to be His  again and again.  “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.” John 3:16. 

The trees in my back yard remind me of this verse - This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2 Corinthians 5:17

When do these second chances begin?  Nicholas Sparks - 'Don't think there are no second chances. Life always offers you a Second Chance...It's called TOMORROW!”  Let’s go further, who gives us each tomorrow?  Our Lord God.  How?  Forgiveness.  Peter asked Jesus, how often are we to forgive someone sins.  The answer?   “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”  Again in Matthew 6:14, the importance of forgiveness is underlined, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” 

In the verses from Lamentations 3:22-23 - The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;
 his mercies begin afresh each morning.

The author, Brant Hansen, has written a book called, “Unoffendable”.  In this day and age, the politically correct thing to do is to be offended, angry to the degree of anger and actions that follow anger such as protesting, suing, fighting, and even killing.  
On the back cover, he writes, “Giving up our ‘right’ to be offended can be one of the most healthy, simplifying, relaxing, refreshing, stress-relieving, encouraging things we can do.  Drop your anger and self-centeredness yields to humility.  Let things go, and energy replaces weariness.  Embrace forgiveness, and you’ll be able to love others in risky, unexpected ways.  Choose to be unoffendable, and you’ll flourish the way God intends you to.”

What is behind being forgiven.?  Love!  “Anger is extraordinarily easy. It’s our default setting. Love is very difficult. Love is a miracle.” Brant Henson.

From Max Lucado’s book, “Just Like Jesus”…”God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.  He wants you to be just like Jesus.”

The Bible Story of Jonah tells how God pursues us and that He has a plan for our lives. God had a job for Jonah, and Jonah tried to run away, stowing away on a ship.  God hurls a powerful wind over the sea.  Jonah was not speaking to God.  The Captain woke up Jonah in the hold telling him to pray to His God to spare our lives.  They cast lots, and this identified Jonah as the culprit.  They demanded to know his name, nationality and god, who obviously was upset with Jonah.  Jonah knew.  He told them to throw him overboard and the sea would be calm.  God knew Jonah needed a ‘cooling off’ time.  A big fish swallowed Jonah. He sat in the fish for 3 days thinking.  What could he do, but cry out to the Lord!   For my salvation comes from the Lord aloneThen God ordered the fish spit Jonah out onto the beach.  Jonah 2:9b-10.

Our salvation comes from the forgiveness from God.  It is a Spring Season in our hearts as a huge change in our lives begins.  God is our second chance!  Our second chance comes from God and His Love and Forgiveness. 

Matthew 6:14 - “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
Romans 4:5 - But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.
Ephesians 4:32 - Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
I John 1:9 - But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Colossians 3:13 - Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gift of Communication

My day began yesterday with attention to writing a Journal Snippet, and then emailing to those who have asked, as I have done for over a year.  A great way to begin the day – looking at God’s Word and seeing what it means for me.  Only the email could not be sent…needs a password?  What?  My daughter suggested rebooting.  I did.  Nothing changed.  Finally, I sent a text to our son, the computer consultant!  He said, “We will have to look at that”.  After a day of trying to email with my iPad and visiting my dear husband, I wondered.  In the evening, Tim came.  In an hour, email was restored.  I watched as his fingers flew over the keyboard to make it happen, and remembered memories Moms always remember  when their child becomes so knowledgeable as an adult. 

Anna, our daughter told me how thankful she can be in constant communication with her husband, children and me.  Communication.  Do we take this gift for granted?  The technology has gone far beyond tin cans with string.  Little did we know as children how far technology would bring us.  My Aunt took me even farther into thankfulness yesterday when I talked to her on the telephone yesterday.  Technology crunches distance and makes it disappear. 

How often I marvel at the strength of my ancestors who came to this country in the 1800’s for freedom of worship. They often left part of the family behind.  Letters took weeks, if at all, to learn about their welfare.  During the 1970’s, my husband went to Vietnam.  My letters that asked questions no longer needed answers, because of the length of time that had passed.

Communication is a gift.  How we use this gift becomes the question. Communications, to be effective needs to be both ways. The speaker and the listener are needed.  In Galatians 5:13, Paul writes, “You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

Considering how our words can show love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  When we speak will we show love to others? Communication can make a relationship rich or fall on the rocks of contention and anger.

God communicates with us, too.  He wants a loving relationship with us.  He wants to walk and talk with us.  He spoke the world into being.  Words so powerful that we are in awe of His Glory and Power.  God has an important message for us.  He had a Word for us and speaks to us through His Son Jesus.  This is Who Jesus is:
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He existed in the beginning with God.  God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it”.  John 1:1-4

The question comes, is all this technology that we choose to use, covering up the Voice of God and His leading?  Closing our ears to truth and wisdom is something we choose to do or not.
May this not be so!  Using our technology to encourage and show God’s love to others, to build a closer relationship with our Lord God and to our family and that God places into our lives is commendable.  Listening is part of this communication.  Easier said than done.  Silence, used for the expectancy of hearing the essence of love, creates closer relationships brings hope and trust and joy. 
One of the greatest blessings a parent of grown children enjoys is when their children tell that they love you and to continue to communicate with you.  In many ways, they communicate that they love you and thank you for the things you are and taught them.  How much more does our Father God want to hear from us?  Not just for the things He can give us but for Who He is, our Creator and Giver of Grace and Eternity. 
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace.  2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 17
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,  bless his holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.  Psalm 103:1-2
 The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets.  Palm 50:1
God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you. Psalm 62:11
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. Hebrews 1:1
And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. Hebrews 1:2

When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” Hebrews 12:16


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Come and See!

In the beginning God, are the first 4 words of the Bible, Genesis 1:1.  We like to begin at the beginning of any book.  I have been known to read the beginning and the ending of the book, just to see… 

I grew up in era of radio.  My mind went into overdrive wondering/picturing the story as I listened.  Now, I don’t have to wonder, I can see on television what is happening and inferences of what to expect.  This makes my mind lazy.  Now I find joy – not just rushing through the reading of the Bible. I like to tie verses together and see how the Bible is filled with the circles.  Nothing is inconsistent.  Where as we have 70 years plus to tie things together, God’s span of existence is like viewing the rainbow – there is no end.

When I saw the relationship between Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1-4 recently, I could only imagine the Father and Son relationship as they viewed the void and created the heavens and the earth and all its inhabitants and us.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10.  Words are important, and our command to love God with all our heart, soul and mind is clear.  We are also commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves.

God was not alone during the Creation…His One and Only Son is also there.  John 1:1-4 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And God said…”Let there be light.”  “Let there be an expanse separating the waters.”  Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together. “Let the earth sprout vegetation. ”  “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens.” Finally – Let US make man in our own image.”   God used Words to make it so. – and So it Was.  And God saw that it was good.”

Jesus is the Word.  He is the Light of the World (John 8:12), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).  Bread of Life (6:33,35).  Living Water (John 7:38).  Jesus is the giver of peace. (John 14:7)

In this era of chaos, din and constant noise, a verse, like this one, seems impossible. Joshua 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  If we cannot meditate on this verse and know the meaning, we lose the value of meditating in silence on the Words of God.  We lose our way.  We wonder why we cannot hear the voice of God.  Constant music, exciting movies, and the sounds of ‘progress’ impede our growth in God. 

In church we often sang these words as a response to prayers, Habakkuk 2:20 - But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”  Mother often wanted me to turn down the mellow tones of Frank Sinatra on the radio as a teen.  How could she be so, so, ‘square’.

Years later, I learned the value of silence and meditating on the Word and listening for the voice of God.  Discerning the Voice of God”, a study by Priscilla Shirer, is giving me the challenge I need to traverse the road that God has given me to travel.  Only through silence and concentrating on verses at a time, I expect to hear the voice of God, I wait patiently to hear, and plan to obey His Voice, and exercising faith and trust to obey His voice.  This is the first lesson.

In this stage of life, I know there are decisions to make plus, difficult choices.  Whatever euphoric vision of old age has long dissipated.  My husband now resides in a home where no one has ‘yesterdays’ and my vision of rocking together into heaven evaporated.  Our children are beginning the stage of aches and pains that show up in middle years.  I now understand and am counting more joys, as James 1:1-4 tells me.  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.

How thankful I am of these words - Ecclesiastes 3:11 - He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

I have come and I have seen the joy of God preparing me to see eternity before I was born, and in you, if you Come, You will See…how glorious Our Savior Jesus Christ who came to make us understand and know how to prepare us to live with Him.  He is Able.

Joshua 1:8-9 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This is my blessing knowing that I belong to Jesus.   Now I look forward to being ‘at Home’ with the Lord and I can only imagine. Recently, someone dear to me, reminded me of these lyrics:

I can only imagine /what it would be like When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine, / What my eyes would see, /When your face, is before me, / I can only imagine… To be surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel / Will I dance for you Jesus / Or In awe of you be still / Will I stand in your presence / To my knees will I fall / Will I sing hallelujah / Will I be able to speak at all / I can only imagine.

  Bart Millard