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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Just As I Am

      Someone knocks on the door.  We scurry to check our appearance and glance at the house to be sure everything is orderly before we open the door. As a child I often envisioned the scriptural picture of Jesus standing at the door knocking, waiting for the invitation to come into our heart-home.  Then I was terrified He would find sin littering my heart and turn away.
         Last week I read the findings of a numerologist with his findings - Jesus is coming on the twenty-third of this month. My first thought was not of preparation and pre-cleaning.  I felt relieved and thankful.  Jesus is coming.
         Matthew 24:35-36 – Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
         When our heart’s cry, throughout our life rings out – “I’m coming to the Savior’s knock on our heart, Just as I am, O Lamb of God, I Come!” – We know we are ready to meet Jesus!
         The answer to the door of our hearts is for each of us. We cannot answer for another.  Preparation for the coming of Jesus is not the outer ‘look” the make-over, but the heart-look.  The heart is who we really are. 
         I'm glad Jesus takes us just as we are and changes us. It is hard to change for someone else and it is very wearing trying to be what we are not.  Jesus loves us for what we can be, not what we are, and He changes us, we cannot.
         Psalm 103:8…13-14 - The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love…The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
         Ephesians 4:21-24 - Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.  Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
         “Just As I Am” is not hiding our imperfections but giving them to God to change us into being the children of God.  When our hearts respond to Jesus, we commit to a constant coming every moment – O Lamb of God, I come… We change our heart’s garments.  We put on Christ in our attitudes and thoughts.  We are renewed. Our nature is created to be like God, Who is truly righteous and holy!
         In 1835, when these words, “Just as I Am” were written by Charlotte Elliot, as she lay, an invalid, desiring to serve God, but finding no way.  She wanted to help, too, and serve God.  Her brother, H. V Elliot, a minister conceived a plan to educate the children of clergymen at a nominal cost.  A Bazaar was to be held.  Everyone was engaged in the preparations.  All helped except Charlotte. She felt useless and questioned her faith and God.  (Charlotte’s life in England spanned the years - 1789–1871. Her testimony of faith is still sung.)
         The next day the thoughts of disappointment and grief came upon her.  She began writing the truths of her faith in God…and her conviction and trust in God came through the words.  Little did she know that the lyrics to the song she wrote that day was an answer to prayer and would change the hearts of many people in the years to come!  Her thoughts and certainties of her faith would be sung countless number of times in many churches.  Many continue to be drawn to Jesus by the undeniable truths she wrote in her heart-felt lyrics.
         Just as I Am, I come, I come… as I read through the familiar verses, I remembered a lady who told me, don’t skip the second verse - it tells a story!  To emphasize that thought, I recently read a quote from my Mom, Anna Daisy Siemens, who often played for funerals. “I often played for Brother Ediger’s Mennonite Indian Mission in Oklahoma.  They usually wanted only organ music, no singing.  Brother Ediger warned her, the Cheyenne-Arapaho Indians knew how many verses each song had, so play every verse.”
         I read the lyrics again, and found the gospel story in the second line of every verse.
          But that Thy blood was shed for me….
     To rid my soul of one dark blot
     With many a conflict, many a doubt,
     Sight, riches, healing of the mind
     Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
     Has broken every barrier down.
         Tim Challies, a blogger and author, found this last verse that finishes this song and the reason for our salvation – God’s Love.
         Just as I am – of that free love
     The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
     Here for a season, then above,
      O Lamb of God, I come!
         Isaiah 12:2 - See, God has come to save me. I will trust in Him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; He has given me victory.”  With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the nations what He has done. Let them know how mighty He is!
         Ephesians 3:18-19 - And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Moment by Moment!

    Moment by moment I’m kept in His love; Moment by moment I’ve life from above; Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine; Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.
     We are a world tethered to schedules of time, moment by moment.  We arise on time, we have a ‘bed time’, and a prescribed amount of hours when we ‘must’ sleep.  There is a time to eat… whether we are hungry or not. As a young mother, I read a book about ‘getting your baby on schedule’…this did not seem feasible to me then or now.    
         Retirement means no more clock-watching and schedule setting. Yet, there are times of appointments for doctors, and when we ‘take time off’ for a vacation.
         Sometimes a stoplight seems forever, and moments of our lives also seem forever.  The moments most precious are the moments God calls us to listen to Him.  He calls us to an awareness of His Precious Presence!
         A chance remark by Henry Varley during the Chicago World Fair to Daniel Whittle in 1893, “I don’t like the hymn, I Need Thee Every Hour.  I need Jesus more often than that.”  Major Whittle thought about this and wrote the hymn, Moment by Moment.
         One scripture impressed me early on is from Matthew 28:20 – “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  These Words of Jesus are as true in the 21st century as the 1st Century.
         We are not left alone in this world and without ready communication with our Lord day and night.  There are no outages of communication on the part of our Lord.  The only static or non-communication is on our end.  This happens through the choices we make to sin and ignore our Lord God. 
         Hebrews 13:5 -  Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
         Never a heartache and never a groan, Never a teardrop and never a moan;      Never a danger, but there on the throne, Moment by moment, He thinks of His own.
         Before Major Whittle became a minister, he fought in the Civil War., tells the story…compiled by Hy Pickering. Major Whittle awoke with an amputation from the elbow down on one arm.  He looked in his belongings, and found a New Testament his Mother had packed for him.  He began reading…realizing that the words came alive with meaning through the experiences he had endured of war, the amputation – deaths of his fellow soldiers.  Not intending to become a Christian, he continued to read. 
         One night a nurse came to him, “Major Whittle, one of your men is dying and wants you to come and pray with him.  I saw that you were reading the New Testament, and knew I could ask you.”  Major Whittle went unwillingly.  He knew the condition of his heart and he had never prayed before to God. The young soldier was a Christian, but had sinned and wanted prayer.  Major Whittle knelt beside the young soldier and began by praying for forgiveness of his own sins and then the sins of the young soldier.  When he rose again, he realized two things – he was forgiven and the young soldier had died forgiven. The young soldier’s face was the countenance of peace. 
         Moment by moment, Daniel Whittle was not forgotten by our Lord Jesus.  The Lord God who set the world into motion, has a plan for each of us and works it out for his purposes.  Jeremiah 29:11 - 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.
         Our enemy is death and we fear this moment, and when we realize Jesus has conquered death and lives again…we are blessed and at peace.  I Corinthians 15:57 - But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
         Who is this God who walks with us every moment?  This God who forgives us of our sins because of His Son, Jesus?  The One who knows our plans and actions before we are born.  No matter how brief our life, it counts with our Jehovah, The Lord God who created the earth, formed Adam and Eve, made a covenant with Abraham, and set the star in the sky to lead the Wisemen to the manger where Jesus was born.  This same Jehovah Lord of God will send Jesus to earth at the end of the Age.
         I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.  I am surrounded by the arms of the Father, I am surrounded by songs of Deliverance.  Yes, I am a child of God, Full of faith!  (Bethel Music
         Job 9:4 - For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully?
         Psalm 136 - Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. His faithful love endures forever.
         I Peter 1:25 - But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

He Leadeth Me!

         The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness, For His name’s sake.  Psalm 23:1-3.
         Just at the right moment a phrase or a word captures our whole being when we read God’s Word. Certain words seem surrounded by bright lights and we stop breathing.  Read the words from Psalm 23 again.  Notice two times the phrase – He Leads Me.  In order to be led, we must be willing to follow.  Which words flash before your eyes?  Which words in this scripture capture your heart in wonder?
         Joseph Gilmore stood to preach his first sermon, and the year is 1862.  The Civil War is raging all around.  What will his message be, since his text is Psalm 23?  He is twenty-eight years old, what wisdom can he share that will draw people’s minds from the chaos of war? 
         Later that afternoon, Joseph continues to contemplate Psalm 23.  He couldn’t get past how God leads us in every situation we find ourselves.  The words, He Leadeth Me continued to be his focus.
         He wrote down the lyrics for, “He Leadeth Me!”  His thoughts and writing traveled.  Unknown to Joseph, his wife sent the lyrics to a Christian periodical to be published.  In another place and time, William Bradbury read the words and wrote music to the words. Three years later, Joseph Gilmore entered a church and found them singing a song that seemed familiar…He Leadeth Me!  He was astonished.  It has been said that a hymn reaches more people that one man’s sermons.
         It is when we are surrounded by evil and destruction at every turn in the form of untruths, doubts and cynicism, our trust in man is destroyed. We turn to the only truth that is faithful and everlasting, God’s Word. His Word alone gives us hope and joy.
         He leadeth me, oh blessed thought, O words with heav’nly comfort fraught (filled).  Whatever I do, wherever I be, Still ‘tis God’s love that leadeth me. (Joseph Gilmore).
         It takes a willing heart and mind to follow God and see his Son Jesus in all His Glory. God gave us Amazing Grace through Jesus Christ, His Son.  It is when we think we must blaze our own trail without His Leading, we falter and fail.
         In the middle of a crisis, God leads us and guides us in our walk on the paths of righteousness.  Humbleness of spirit, seeking truth, living in gentleness, kindness and patience fills our hearts with love, joy and peace from our Lord God.
         Two other verses of He Leadeth Me follow: Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine, Nor ever murmur, nor repine, Content whatever lot I see, Since ‘tis my God that leadeth me. – And when my task on earth is done, When by Thy grace the victory’s won, Even death’s cold wave I will not flee, Since God through Jordan leadeth me.
         Who leads you?  What leads you?  We are all followers of something or someone.  What thoughts do we wake up to?  What thoughts give us peace at night to sleep?  What thoughts refresh and encourage our inner spirit to face the day?  These are all indicators of who or what is important in our lives and who are what we follow. 
         When I am troubled with thoughts of fear before bedtime, Mom often told me to think of something beautiful as a child.  Now I read these verses from Philippians 4:7-9.  These words are beautiful and will last not just for one night, but eternally… and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
         The chorus of the hymn, He Leadeth Me, concludes with a commitment, a vow, to be His and let Him lead me. 
         He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own Hand, He leadeth me.  His faithful follower I would be, for by His Hand He leadeth me.
         Romans 15:13-14 - Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
         Psalm 16:6-8 - The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!  I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
         Psalm 25:8-10 - Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
         Psalm 23:4 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
         John 10:2-4 - But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.