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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In the Name of Jesus

      Visiting my husband of sixty-five years, I kissed him and asked, Do you know who I am?  He said your voice is familiar, but he didn’t have a name.  “Emily, your wife,” I responded.  He said, “I was hoping so!”  What is in a name?
      When we visited, he began praying brief prayers, ending each one with, “In Jesus’ Name!” He ended with a declaration, “I love you, Lord Jesus!” He might not remember me after sixty-five years of marriage, but He remembers the Lord of Life.
       Is it because he was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) or is it because God implanted eternity in his heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  I give thanks to the Jesus and can feel His Smile, as Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
    When the aid came into the room to apply lotion to my husband’s dry skin, Ed said, “God bless you!  Thank you!”  From the depths of Lewy Body Dementia and a heart of love, God has given him a ministry pointing to Jesus. This is a blessing to all who will hear.
       I smile as I listen to Ed’s voice.  Because of the disease Ed has, I am seeing and hearing his heart, God sees and hears.
       Have you wondered about the many names of God and the meanings of these names?  Here are a few of my favorites that describe the One we follow, in the link above:  
·      ELOHIM[el-oh-heem]: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong
·      EL SHADDAI [el-shah-dahy]: “God Almighty,” “The Mighty One of Jacob”
·      ADONAI [ˌædɒˈnaɪ; ah-daw-nahy]: “Lord
·      YAHWEH-JIREH [yah-way-ji-reh]: "The Lord Will Provide
·      YAHWEH-RAPHA [yah-way-raw-faw]: "The Lord Who Heals"
·      YAHWEH-ROHI [yah-way-roh-hee]: "The Lord Our Shepherd"
·      EL-OLAM [el-oh-lahm]: "Everlasting God"
       Names have meaning to God. He knew us before we were and chose us.  Oh, to belong to Jesus so that all we do is done in the Name of Jesus, He, who loves each of us!  We often wonder what our names mean.  My Dad once told me, “I can’t give you much, but I give you my good name. Guard your name in the way you live.”
       When we are baptized in The Name of the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit, our name is enhanced.  We become more than we were before we became an Ambassador of Christ.  Do we honor His Name with His love in our lives?  Or, do we defame His Name and his Gift of Grace?  Do we use His Name to curse others or show his love to others?  Do we love our enemies and pray for them?
       It is not important what others or Facebook says we are, but it is most important what God says who we are.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:11.
Now when I say, In Jesus’ Name, the power of God shakes me to the core. 
       Jesus taught His Disciples how to pray, written in Matthew 6:9-15. 
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.  If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.   But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins
         Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 
         How can this be?  We are sinful people, excusing our sin by saying, “Just this once, A little won’t hurt, or I’ll wait until tomorrow to pray, to live for Him…”
         The time to love and serve others in the name of Jesus is now.  The time to actively pursue a peace that gives joy in the Name of Jesus is now. The time to pray and chase away the evil one in the Name of Jesus is now.  The time to mend our ways and let Him heal our souls in the Name of Jesus is now.
         The head that once was crowned with thorns, is crowned             with glory now.
      The one who wore our sin and shame, Now robed in                   majesty.
      The radiance of perfect love, Now shines for all to see.
      Your Name, Your name is victory. All praise will rise.
        To Christ our king, Your Name Your Name is victory.
      All praise will rise To Christ our King! 
   On the way to Jerusalem, many people spread their coats on the road for Jesus. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Some of the people were walking ahead of Jesus. Others were walking behind him. They all shouted, “Praise to the Son of David!  ‘Welcome! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Praise to God in heaven!”  Then Jesus went into Jerusalem. All the people in the city were confused. They asked, “Who is this man?”  Matthew 21:8-1
   “Jesus told us to go and speak to the people. He told us to tell them that he is the one God chose to be the Judge of all who are living and all who have died.  Everyone who believes in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name. All the prophets agree that this is true.” Acts 10:42-43
   Your faithful love is better than life, so my lips praise you. By my life, I will praise you.  In your name, I lift my hands in prayer. When I sit down to satisfy my hunger, my joyful lips hunger to praise you! Psalm 63:3-5
   You are great and do amazing things. You and you alone are God.  Lord, teach me your ways, and I will live and obey your truths. Help me make worshiping your name the most important thing in my life.  My Lord God, I praise you with all my heart. I will honor your name forever! Psalm 86:10-12
   Those who win the victory will be pillars in the temple of my God. I will make that happen for them. They will never again have to leave God’s temple. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God. That city is the new Jerusalem. It is coming down out of heaven from my God. I will also write my new name on them. Revelation 3:11-12


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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

God's Way


        Recently I remembered my brothers in our childhood.  One of the memories included when they ran away from home.  They thought they were well prepared and knew where they were going.  Since they were Boy Scouts, they knew how to survive.  They packed a Boy Scout Hatchet for any emergency, plus two canteens of water. They planned to live ‘off the land’.
         They hiked the seven miles to the Boy Scout Camp, the logical place to go. The school notified Dad and Mom mid-morning when they failed to appear.  The search began. In those days, we had lunch at home, instead of school.  I walked home and Mom made her usual delicious lunch with chocolate pie with mile-high golden meringue for dessert. 
         The problem? I found it difficult to swallow because my brothers, Jim and Gene weren’t there. I missed them and wondered if I would ever see them again!  My imagination conjured up mind-pictures of huge black bears pouncing on them.
         At dusk, Jim and Gene appeared with a neighbor who found them and brought them home.  He told Mom they were hungry so he bought them each a hamburger.  Later at our private debriefing, they told me the water was soon gone, and they could only find berries to eat.  Then they could find nothing to eat.  They wandered in the woods. I was thankful they didn’t say anything about bears.
         Why did they run away?  They were tired of following the rules at school and doing chores at home. They wanted to find their own way. Surely it would be better for them.
         How often we say, I can do it by myself. I can make my own rules, create my own world by myself. Sooner or later we learn – It is God’s Way.
         King David was a ‘man after God’s own heart’. How can that be with all the bad things David did?  Did the power God gave Him, ‘go to his head’?  David had a song in his heart and he knew when he didn’t follow God’s way and pleaded for forgiveness.
         Over and over in the Psalms, we learn how God forgives King David. Why?  God forgave David because of David’s humility before our Creator.   The biblical definition of humility brings it home - thinking more of others than ourselves 
To know God’s Way, we learn to know God Himself through knowing Jesus Christ. “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”  John 8:19.” 
         To know God’s Way – we learn to know God Himself through Jesus Christ. He came to this earth to teach us God’s Way.  Jesus prepares us for this journey with His heart of love.   Love like Jesus – that is God’s Way – for God is Love. God cannot abide to lay His eyes on sin.  God sent Jesus to teach us God’s Way of purity.
         Why God’s Way?  Who created the vast Heavens and earth?  Who created man? Who made the sunshine and the stars in the night sky?  Who made the wide ocean and the lofty mountains that speak of His grandeur? This is God’s universe we live in and He is our Shepherd and King.  He longs for us to choose Him, love Him, and trust Him with our lives. He gives us hope, joy, and peace when we live in His Way.  He gave us His Word to learn His Way!  
         He prepares us.  He trains us.  He beckons us to Come. He surrounds us with His Presence for those who see and hear Him with our hearts that are tuned to Him.  God created us in His image. He believes in second chances. 
         Elizabeth Elliott says it - “The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God…or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.” 
         We have the Armor of God when we walk in His Love. This is not armor we can see, but armor protecting our faith in Jesus.  
         Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:14-18
         There is no ‘running away from God’.  Jonah learned this while contemplating his actions for three days and nights in the belly of the big fish.  C. S. Lewis said. Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.  This pain can be physical, emotional or spiritual.
            God didn’t create us to leave us here to do the best we can alone.  We soon learn we cannot do life by ourselves.  He reminds us often that His Way is for us. 
         James 1:2-4 tells us why there is pain and why it is good.  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
       Do we know our destination after this life? Are we prepared for the journey? Who is our Guide and Comfort? This life is a process of learning to be His.
      Teach me Your way, O LORD, And lead me in a level path Because of my foes. Psalm 27:11
     Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. Psalm 86:11
     He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way. Psalm 25:9
     Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Taste of Heaven


        Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8. 
         My visit with my dear Ed last week brought me such joy. I pulled out a small container of pumpkin pie and hot tea from my pink travel bag in his room. After feeding him a bite, I asked how it tasted. “Good!”  The hot tea tasted like soup to him, and finally, after some thought, he settled on Emily-Tea.
         I began to read the current Scriptural Snippet to Ed.  He listened and began to respond. I leaned forward to catch every word. He talked about the joy of Heaven.  “Next time Jesus comes, I want him to bring a piece of Heaven, so I can taste it!” 
         It has been over a week, and still his statement rolls around in my mind.  A Taste of Heaven.  Can we find a piece of Heaven on Earth?  Not until we learn to love like Jesus, do we begin to understand Heaven.  God is love, and Heaven is built on a foundation of His Love.  God’s kind of love brings peace and joy through sacrifice and service exemplified by Jesus on this earth. 
         Exodus 16 reveals the puzzled response of the Israelites when they did not recognize God’s leading from slavery in Egypt. God led them day and night. When they were hungry, God fed them with quail and Manna from Heaven so they would know He is their Father.  When they saw the Manna on the ground, their faces were as blank as children in school trying to learn complicated concepts.  Moses explains and yet they turn from God.  Years later, Jesus arrives on earth, our Manna from Heaven.  Do we turn away in unbelief and puzzlement relying on our own understanding? 
         Heaven is the compass of our reality that gives our lives meaning by living in joyful praise. Heaven captures our hearts and our minds. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:2-4
         Will we recognize a ‘piece of Heaven’ on earth?  Where we find God’s love in action, we find a piece of Heaven!  Will we know what to do with it?  God never says complain and whine and you will see me! Apostle Paul had two desires. He knew the reality of Heaven. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.  But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Philippians 1:23
         One evening I sat down, ready to study and realized I had finished my current course of study.  What would I do? Just as God’s mercies are new each day, so is learning about our unseen God.  When we are face to face with our Father in Heaven, we find out we have much more to learn.
         Jesus came to teach us how to love and He bore the payment/sacrifice for our sins to make us Heaven-Ready if we but believe.  Grace is a free gift, it isn’t what we do, but what we believe and how we live that translates into Heaven for us.   
         We are pulled in a tug of war – we want to be where the action is on this earth. We often become addicted to activities and attitudes in these places.  We lose sight of living for and in Christ.  We no longer see the treasures of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. 
         Day by day, if we resist the tug to earthly things, but hold tight to our Lord Jesus Christ, we gain the sweet fruit of living for Jesus.  We love others and the world knows Jesus.  We find a joy that is in Christ and peace that washes away earthly turmoil.  We gather the sweetness of love that shows in living lives of kindness, goodness, and gentleness.  We learn the patience, waiting for others and patience with ourselves.  We learn to wait on the Lord, for in His Name, He leads us.  Our faithfulness to God becomes eternal, deep and wide, beyond time.  The self-control helps us to ‘bite our tongue’ against impulsive words or actions not pleasing to our steadfast God.
         Yes, dear Husband, you taste Heaven each day as you succumb to the depths of dementia, depending on others for everything.  I learn from your patience, kindness, and acceptance.  God has given me a deep appreciation for the care you receive from others. How often I long for our home in Heaven. 
         This is our wilderness of learning to trust our Lord God and this trust brings a depth of peace I would not know without this time in our lives. 

         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. Philippians 4:7
         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
         When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:3
         But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.  And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. 2 Peter 3:13-14
         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

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