Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 29, 2016

A Christmas Promise

A Christmas Promise

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14)

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved Christmas. I love the decorating, all the extra cooking and baking, and even searching for that just right gift for every person on my Christmas list. Even as I get older, I’m discovering that my love for Christmas, instead of diminishing, just continues to grow.

This year as I began to pull out all the decorations to get everything ready to decorate, I heard the tragic news of devastating wildfires in one of my favorite places in the world – the Great Smoky Mountains. Things quickly accelerated and within a matter of hours, the extremely dry conditions and strong winds had whipped the fire into a raging inferno that quickly descended into the nearby towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, Jones Cove, and much of Sevier County. At the time I’m writing this, numerous structures, including both businesses and homes, have been completely destroyed by fire.

This is especially poignant to me. This area is only about 1-1/2 hours away from where I live and even as a child, my family enjoyed trips to the Smokies. My husband and I stopped in Gatlinburg on our first night as husband and wife, as we made our way to the Shenandoah for our honeymoon. We have enjoyed weekend getaways to this area with our own kids, many of which were during the Christmas season.img_1394

Long story short – my heart hurts. But as I continued to work, my eyes fell on a new Christmas tree ornament that my daughter, Karla, gave to me just this past weekend. Inscribed on a small block of wood were the words “God With Us!” Immediately, I was reminded of the prophecy of Isaiah:“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel – God with us! This is the promise of Christmas!

So many things in our lives are uncertain. No one could have foreseen the raging fire and untold devastation even a day before the fires raged out of control. The same is true in your life and mine. Our futures are unknown. But Christmas reminds us that whatever comes, God is with us. Jesus, God in the flesh, told His disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus also explained to them that when He left them and returned to the Father, that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them (see John 16:5-15). Today, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us (Romans 8:11). Scriptures help us know that the Spirit helps us (see John 14:16-26), guides us (see John 16:13), gives us discernment (see 1 John 4:1-6), bears fruit in our lives (see Galatians 5:22-23), comforts us (see Acts 9:31), and helps reveal the things of God to us (see 1 Corinthians 2:10, 13). We, too, can know the joy that God is with us. Perhaps, this Christmas promise is what makes my love for Christmas just continue to grow year by year. Each year holds countless reminders of a God who is not aloof and unreachable, but a God who is with us every day, in good times, in bad times, at all times!

As I get ready for Christmas, I realize that not everyone’s season is bright and joyful. There are those in the middle of all kinds of hardships. There are those who may be reeling from uncertain medical diagnoses, others who may be trying to rebuild lives after losing everything to floods, fires, or other calamities. And still others who are just discouraged, misunderstood, or in a season of loss or struggle. I’ve been there at certain Christmases, too. Yet, every Christmas, in whatever situation we find ourselves, we can rejoice in the unchangeable Christmas promise – the absolute wonder of a God who loves us, who came to save us, and who is with us always!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

(Matthew 1:23)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 16, 2016

A Matter of the Heart

A Matter of the Heart

I don’t know about you, but I am tired, so very tired. I’m tired of so much evil and hate in this world. I’m tired of the killings, assaults, rapes, robberies, and other violent crimes that we hear of daily. I’m tired of the inhumanity of man toward man, the total disregard for one’s life or property, much less their needs, worries, and struggles. And at the end of this political season, where there seems to be no end to the finger-pointing, name-calling, and continual bashing of those with whom we disagree, I am not only tired, I am pretty much worn out and wasted. Sometimes, after hearing of some unthinkable evil, I breathe to myself: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). I just want to go home!

But then, I’m reminded of 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  God waits. God loves. God does not want anyone to perish. He wants all to come to Him.

The problems in our world today are heart problems. Jesus Himself told His disciples: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19). The evil we see in our world today comes from hearts that do not know the Lord.

Unfortunately, however, those of us who know the Lord can have heart problems, too. Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when he confronted the scribes and Pharisees: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). Are those of us who profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, honestly seeking, worshiping, and honoring Him with our hearts? Are we seeking His will, obeying His Word, or are we picking and choosing those things that support what we think? Are we using His Word, sometimes out of context, to promote our own agendas or to justify our positions? Or, even worse, have we left the truths contained in Scripture and are instead promoting false doctrines? The Bible warns us: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).

What does God see when He looks at my heart? Does He see a heart that is truly His? James tells us: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). Paul gave Timothy some advice that can help us in our world today. In 2 Timothy 2:22-26, he told Timothy to –

  • Flee youthful lusts,
  • Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart,
  • Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife,
  • Do not quarrel,
  • Be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
  • Correct those who are in opposition, with humility, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Here again, we see God’s desire that those who do not know Him might be won over through the actions, attitudes, and love of those whose hearts are truly His.

Next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Each year I like to reflect on all those things for which I am thankful. Inevitably, they always come down to the incredible riches I have because God loved me and sent His Son to save me. And God wants that for every person He created. He offers it to everyone, but each person has to make that choice. For those of us who have received that gift, let us not grow weary. Let us allow the love of God to compel us to live courageously and joyfully, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). May we, too, endure the struggle, knowing that while our ultimate victory has already been won through Christ, we still have work to do so that the hearts of others may turn to Him. It really is a matter of the heart!

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 9, 2016

When God Calls Us

When God Calls Us

Recently, I read the following verses from the book of Amos.

“I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel” (Amos 7:14-15).

I love these verses! The Message, in today’s vernacular, translates these two verses: “But Amos stood up to Amaziah: “I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, ‘Go preach to my people Israel.’”

Amos was a simple man with a simple life. He raised sheep and cared for sycamore fruit. The Thomas Nelson Study Bible explains that the sycamore tree bears large numbers of small figs. In order for the fruit to ripen correctly, a small hole had to be poked in the bottom of each fruit’s skin. This was a slow, pain-staking process that required a laborer to pierce the bottom of each fruit as it hung on the tree. Sheepherders would often pierce fruit for landowners in exchange for grazing rights for their sheep. This was Amos’ life, tending his sheep and caring for the sycamore fruit.

Amos may have been a simple man living a simple life, but God had something special He wanted Amos to do. Amos may not have intended to “be a preacher,” but God said: “Go preach to my people Israel.” He sent Amos to prophesy coming judgment on Israel and to call them to repent and reform. Through Amos’ prophecies, He warned the leaders that if they refused to do so, their injustices against the poor and the weak would destroy the nation. Amos obeyed – even when facing opposition. And his defense was simple. God told me to do it. I’m doing it.

As I think about Amos, I’m reminded that God doesn’t just call the rich, famous, or even the most talented or gifted to do important things for Him. As the Lord told Samuel when looking upon Jesse’s sons to anoint one as king: “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). Yet when God does call us to some important task, what do we do? I have to stop and ask myself that question. Maybe you need to ask that question, too. You see, I know how I have sometimes responded.

  • I’ve questioned God. Do you mean me? You want me to do that?
  • I’ve postponed obedience. If I had been in Amos’ shoes, I might have said: “But God, I need to finish piercing this fruit first so my sheep can graze. I’ll go after I finish my work.
  • I’ve made excuses. I’m not gifted in that way. I’ve never done anything like that before.
  • I’ve offered substitutions. I can’t do that, but I’ll do this.
  • I’ve listened to others instead of God. What others think I should do is not always what God wants me to do.

When God called Amos to prophesy, he simply did what God told him to do.

One thing that I dearly love about Amos’ reply to Amaziah is his refusal to try to explain, justify, or defend who he was or what he said. It’s as if he said: “I am who I am, I do what I do, and this is what God said.” When God truly calls and takes hold of us, who we are or what we do doesn’t really matter. It’s all about God and whatever task He is calling us to do. He will prepare. He will equip. He will accomplish His purpose in us and through us. We just have to say yes.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you” (John 15:16).

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 27, 2016

My Greatest Treasure

My Greatest Treasure

One of my favorite worship and praise songs is “You Are My All in All” written by musician Dennis Jernigan. You can listen to a recording of it here. Every time I hear this song, I am reminded afresh of the absolute wonder of who Jesus is and of what He has done for me! You see, I know Jesus. He has saved me. He has picked me up when I’ve been down. He has encouraged me when I’ve been afraid. He has been with me in both joy and sorrow. He is my strength, my help, and as the above song so wonderfully expresses, He is my All in all. Jesus is truly my greatest treasure. Yet, sometimes when I am in the midst of life’s struggles, I seem to forget who Jesus is. Instead of resting in who He is, I may worry, grow anxious, or fear. How about you? Do you forget sometimes, too?

Do we forget who Jesus is when –

  • We are worn out, tired, sick, or weak?
  • We have sinned and failed, yet again?
  • We are empty, drained, and ready to give up?
  • We are put down, overlooked, alone, or forgotten?

It is at those very times, more than ever, that we need to truly remember and grab hold of who Jesus is! Jesus paid the sacrifice for our sins when He was nailed to the cross. He died in your place and mine. But the story doesn’t end there. He arose from the grave and He ascended into heaven. Jesus is alive and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Paul told the Ephesians about the greatness of God’s power “which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:20-23). I belong to this Christ! No matter how difficult or bleak things may seem in this world, each of us who belong to Him can rest in the assurance of who Jesus is. He is –

  • Ruler over all. Jesus is seated above and all authority and power has been given to Him. No earthly power is greater than the One who reigns above.
  • Our deliverer. Through Jesus’ death, the devil no longer has power over death. (see Hebrews 2:14-15). When we place our trust in Christ, we receive eternal life, and are delivered from death.
  • Our advocate with the Father. He is forever making intercession for us before our Father in heaven (see Hebrews 7:25).
  • Our High Priest who can sympathize with us and understand our struggles (Hebrews 4:15). He, too, knew what it was like to live in a fallen world. He is compassionate and merciful to us. The writer of Hebrews urges us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
  • Our Shepherd. As Jesus told His disciples: “I am the good shepherd; and I know Mysheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). Jesus laid down His life for us, continues to intercede for us, He will work in us to do His will and He will get us home.

With Jesus as ruler, our deliverer, our advocate, our High Priest, and our shepherd, we do not have to worry, fear, give up, become discouraged, or lose hope. Because of who Jesus is and what He did for us, we can not only survive, we can be conquerors with Christ! Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

Jesus assured His earthly disciples of His Presence with them before He ascended into heaven. “…And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). And He is with you and me, too, through His Holy Spirit. “And I (Jesus) will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

Jesus is my greatest Treasure. He is my All in all. I don’t want to forget who He is, what He did, and what He continues to do for me. I want to keep my eyes on Jesus, knowing that I am His. What more do I need to know?

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 14, 2016

In Times Like These

In Times Like These

 

This controversial political season is sparking more debate and divisiveness, more worry and angst, than just about any other election year I can recall. From our work places to our dinner tables, we argue over the worthiness of the two major presidential candidates and their very different visions for our nation. Pros and cons steadily stream on our social media news feeds and every night the national news seems to announce new developments in the race that make things worse than the day before. It’s easy to become discouraged. So what do we do?

Whether we’re discouraged by the current political climate in our country, the devastation wreaked by a hurricane or other natural disaster, an unwelcomed medical diagnosis, or any other problem or trial, giving up or giving in is not the answer. The only way through, the only way out, is to keep our eyes, our hearts, firmly fixed upon our Lord and place our trust fully in Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Notice that our trust is not in what seems right or good, or any other person or thing. We trust in the Lord. Also notice that we trust Him completely, not half-heartedly. We do not waver or rely on our own understanding. And lastly, notice that we acknowledge Him in all our ways. We recognize that He is God and accept His authority in our lives. And then, He will direct our paths.

In times like these – and as I have discovered in difficult times in my own life – the opposite of discouragement, is faith. And faith comes from trusting in our Lord and allowing Him to direct our paths.

Trust is not a passive response. It is a conscious decision to surrender my needs, worries, fears, all my struggles, to our Sovereign God. It is coming to Him, talking to Him, reading His Word, searching for guidance and direction, and seeking His will for me in my present moment.

  • When I am afraid, I trust in Him (Isaiah 43:10). He will be with me, strengthen, help me, and hold me up!
  • When I have many worries, I trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3). He will give me peace.
  • When I have no way to fight my own battles, I trust in Him (Proverbs 37:5). He is ready to act on my behalf.
  • When evil triumphs, I trust in Him (Psalm 37:39-40). He is my refuge; He will help me and deliver me.

One of the best things we can do in times like these is to draw near to God, seek Him, acknowledge Him, and trust Him. I am reminded of an old hymn written by Frances J. Crosby, “Draw Me Nearer” (lyrics printed below). I think I‘ve known this hymn for most of my life. Yet the older I grow, the more precious its lyrics become to me. It was first published in 1875, but its words still speak to believers today.  In times like these, may we all draw near to the One who loves us, who died for us, and with whom we will one day eternally dwell. May we trust Him in all things, at all times. And while Christ lingers in His return, may our prayer be the second stanza of this great hymn: “Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, By the pow’r of grace divine; Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, And my will be lost in Thine.” Amen

 

Draw Me Nearer

Frances J. Crosby

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Refrain:
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the pow’r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 5, 2016

A Loyal Heart

A Loyal Heart

Recently, while spending a few days with our son and his family, my husband and I went to pick up our grandson from his preschool. We inched forward in the car line, watching as workers led children to the waiting cars. Soon, I2016-04-02-16-38-12 spotted a teacher holding Benji’s hand and looking for our car. Although she didn’t know us that well, Benji knew who he was looking for as he searched for our familiar faces. It was such a sweet moment when he finally spotted us, his little anxious face breaking into a happy smile.

Most of us can relate to anxiously searching for someone’s face in a crowd. We can also identify with the relief we feel when that face is found. The same is true when we have problems or burdens and we’re desperate for someone to be there for us, to listen, to help, to understand. God surely knows that about us. Time and again in Scripture, He assures us that He is with us, that He will be with us, and that He will never, ever forsake us. And not only is He with us, He draws near to us. King David rejoiced: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). Scripture also assures us that He will act for us. Hanani, the seer, confronted King Asa of Judah for relying on the King of Israel rather than God. He reminded the king how God had previously delivered the Ethiopians and Lubim, a huge army with chariots and horsemen, into the king’s hand when the king had relied upon God. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9a).

Our God is great and mighty. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe. Yet this same God is with us; He draws near when we call upon Him; and He is ready to show Himself strong on our behalf. The Word is clear about God. He is a faithful, ever-present, loyal God. But what about you and me. Are our hearts loyal to Him? Do we seek Him with all our hearts? Loyalty can be defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Synonyms for loyalty include faithfulness, devotion, and obedience. Are we faithful, devoted, and obedient to God?

  • Do we go to church or do we worship?
  • Do we check off Bible readings or do we seek to hear what God is saying to us?
  • Do we recite prayer requests or do we humble ourselves and earnestly pray? Do we praise God, thank Him, lay our petitions before Him, and seek His will?
  • Does God truly occupy first place in our lives, or just a corner of our hearts?
  • Do we trust God and follow His Word or do we make excuses and try to justify our disobedience?

Are our hearts loyal to God?

I don’t know about you, but I have often been guilty of each of the above more times than I would like to admit. How can I fail to be loyal to the One who loved me enough to die for me? A soldier may be loyal to his commanding officer out of duty and respect. An employee or hired worker may be loyal to his supervisor out of duty or even obligation. But I want to be loyal to my Lord and my Savior, not out of duty or obligation, but out of love for the One who loves me in spite of my shortcomings and failures, who loves me unconditionally, beyond understanding. I pray that I will faithfully follow this One who is always with me, who comes near when I need Him most, and whose eyes run to and fro, ready to act on my behalf. May I seek my Lord’s face with the same eagerness and anticipation as my little grandson searched for mine. And when God looks upon my heart, I pray that He will find a heart that is truly loyal to Him!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 27, 2016

How Will You Vote?

How Will You Vote?

This is pretty much the question on most of our minds with election day drawing closer. The more I listen to all the political rhetoric however, the more difficult it becomes to try to make up my mind. I agree and disagree with both candidates on different issues. So, what do I do?

As I was reading my Bible earlier this week, however, the following Scripture got my attention. “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today” (Deuteronomy 8:11). Moses was speaking to the Israelites as they were standing at the entrance of Canaan, their promised land. Since Moses would not be entering the land with them, he took this opportunity to remind them of God’s laws and their responsibility to stay faithful.

As I thought about Moses’ warning to the Israelites, I thought about our country. Have we forgotten the Lord? Moses continued his warning:

“Lest –

  • when you have eaten and are full,
  • and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them,
  • and when your herds and your flocks multiply,
  • and your silver and gold are multiplied,
  • and all that you have is multiplied;
  • when your heart is lifted up,

and you forget the Lord your God” (verses 12-14a).

Moses realized the grave danger of the people forgetting God. “Then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth’” (verse 17).

Has our plenty in this nation resulted in hearts lifted up? Have we become a proud people, boastful of all our accomplishments? When we study the platforms of the two major political parties, do we see evidence of a respect and honor for God’s commandments, His judgments, and His statutes? Or do we see, in some instances, an outright defiance to the Word of God?

 

Moses encouraged the people to remember ….

  • “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage,
  • who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water;
  • who brought water for you out of the flinty rock;
  • who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know,

that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end” (verses 14b-16).

Moses told the Israelites to remember God who brought them out of bondage, who led and protected them, and who did the impossible time and again as he performed miracles on the behalf of His people. When we forget God and what He has done, we place our trust in ourselves instead of in the Almighty God.

As I think about the coming election, I remind myself that there is a God I can trust. I am not going to place my trust in any political party or in any candidate. I am going to believe in the God who saved me, who has walked with me in good times and hard times, and who has never left me nor forsaken me. Things in our country may look dreadfully worrisome now, but in whom are we trusting? Let us place our trust in Almighty God, commit ourselves to seeking His guidance as we decide how to cast our votes, and let us…..

  • Pray fervently for our nation, pleading for His mercy upon a nation who has forgotten Him.
  • Study the platforms for both political parties and look for evidence of stances that honor God’s commandments and statutes.
  • Ask God for wisdom and discernment in making our decisions.

The Psalmist tells us: “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10). Let us not forget the Lord, but seek Him, trust Him, and stay faithful to Him in all that we do. The rest is up to God!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 21, 2016

A Place to Dwell

A Place to Dwell

Anyone who truly knows me surely knows one thing about me – I am definitely a “homebody!” I would rather be at home than anywhere else in the world. Oh, I enjoy going places and seeing new things. There are even those places that hold a special place in my heart that I can return to over and over like the sandy beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks or the beautiful, mist-shrouded Smoky Mountains with its virgin forests and clear, mountain streams. But as much as I love those places, I’m always ready to get back home.

Home is that special place where I can just be me. It is a place of acceptance, of love, even when I may not necessarily deserve it. Home is where my “stuff” is and where a little box of treasured memories is packed away. Home is the comforting smell of dinner cooking, a soft breeze blowing through an open window, and an old sweet dog sleeping on the couch. It is a precious place where neatly framed pictures of family grace walls and shelves and where often is heard: “Remember when!” Home is where little feet race to catch big dreams and where older, weary feet find a place of rest. Home is all of this and so much more!

As special as home is to me, however, I know that even in our homes, we can have problems and struggles. We may face serious illnesses, loss of loved ones, relationship issues, and many other problems that can make life tough. Instead of being a place of refuge and encouragement, our homes, too, can become difficult and trying places. So, what do we do? Where do we go when it seems there is nowhere to go? Where do we go when we’re burdened, tired, weak, and discouraged? I assure you. There is a place for us to dwell!

The psalmist tells us of this place. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). The secret place most likely refers to the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber of the sanctuary in the temple. It was separated from the outer chamber by a veil and was reserved for the presence of God. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. Under the new covenant, however, all believers have access to the Father through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. We are told that when Jesus died, the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the outer chamber was torn in half from the top to the bottom. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death, we can boldly come into that secret place of God’s gracious presence. “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

It is in that secret place where we can dwell. How do we dwell in God’s presence? We settle down with Him. We place our faith and trust in Him. I especially like one of the definitions for dwell shown in the KJV Dictionary: “to continue; to be fixed in attention; to hang upon with fondness.” In other words, we seek Him, talk with Him, and enjoy His presence. When all about us may be falling apart, He is our refuge, the One with whom our hearts can safely dwell. We are at home with Him.

Note that the Psalmist also stated that the one who dwells in that secret place “shall abide under the very shadow of the Almighty God!” I cannot even comprehend the wonder of God Himself covering me with His shadow. He shelters me, protects me, and keeps His eyes on me. And there is no way I can be separated from Him. Shadows go with you wherever you go. So, even when I’m going through difficulties or hard things, He has me covered!

I’m so thankful that I can know the joy and wonder of dwelling in God’s presence. How I yearn to know Him better and better. Perhaps, you do, too. Jesus has already made the way for us. Accept what Jesus has done and let us boldly come into that secret place – a place for us to dwell!

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 1, 2016

Sustained by God

Sustained by God

Summer time seems to take me back to the sweet memories of childhood more than any other season of the year. Recollections of going barefoot and  wading in a cool creek, enjoying watermelon and hand-churned ice cream, stringing beans and silking corn, going on picnics and taking car rides with the windows rolled down, are just a few of the happy memories that I cherish.

But I also remember Mama standing over a hot stove with sweat dripping from her brow as she canned those beans and other vegetables and fruits; Daddy as he worked tirelessly hoeing and weeding that garden after a full day of work; and also my grandparents, whose aging bodies slowed their steps and diminished their strength.

Then, I’m reminded that life, even with all its joy, can also be hard. All of us have our share of difficulty and trouble in this life. Yet, I’m learning that in and through it all, there is One who holds it altogether. In Colossians 1:17, Paul writes: “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” This One is God Himself, the Creator of all things.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when I felt like it was my job to hold everything together – even in those times when it seemed like everything was falling apart. But the above Scripture assures me that holding things together is not my job. That’s God’s job.

But just as a child tightly holds a loved, but broken toy, instead of relinquishing it to the one who can fix it, don’t we often do the same? We think we know what is right. We want to do things our way. We forget that the One who made us, who planned our days, who orchestrates the entire universe, tells us to trust Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths”
(Proverbs 3:5-6).

When we place our trust in God, we commit to doing things His way – even when we may not understand. Scriptures remind us that we can never fully understand God’s thoughts and ways. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways. This is the Lord’s declaration. For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yet, this same God not only takes over all our “stuff” and holds everything together, He also holds us together, as well. He promises to sustain us (i.e., strengthen, comfort, help, encourage, and even, carry us when needed) as we commit our way to Him.

  • He strengthens, helps, and holds onto us when we are afraid.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

  • He steadies and supports us when we are worried or troubled.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken”
(Psalm 55:22).

  • He comforts us in all our afflictions (i.e., suffering, pain, sorrow, distress, adversity).

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

  • He keeps (holds onto, retains possession) our mind and gives us peace.

“You (the Lord) will keep the mind that is dependent on You
in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You”
(Isaiah 26:3).

  • He holds onto us.

“The God of old is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He drives out the enemy before you and commands, Destroy!” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

  • He will never leave or forsake us.

“And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

I am so thankful that I don’t have to be the one that holds everything in my life together. I am thankful for a God who loves me, watches over me, and is always there for me. I am especially grateful that He sustains me in the middle of my sometimes crazy life – that He strengthens and steadies me, comforts me and gives me peace, and holds onto me when sometimes I just can’t hold on anymore. Just as I felt loved, protected, and safe all those summers ago, my God reminds me that He will sustain me today, and tomorrow, just as He sustained my parents and grandparents in both the joys and difficulties they faced. What more do I need to know?

 

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

(Hebrews 1:3)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 24, 2016

GaGa’s Beach House

GaGa’s Beach HouseIMG_20160710_082527

A few weeks ago, our family spent a week together at the beach. For some reason, our little grandson was determined that the place we rented for the week was GaGa’s house. Each time he said something about being at GaGa’s house, we would explain that this was not GaGa’s house. As he continued, however, I finally tried to help him understand. “Benji, this is not GaGa’s house. Remember when you visit GaGa and PaPa in the mountains. You run under the big trees in the yard and throw rocks in the little creek. That’s GaGa and PaPa’s house. This is just a beach house where we all come for vacation.” He bounded off, seeming to understand. Soon, however, I heard him remark how much he liked GaGa’s beach house! We gave up!

Later as I thought about Benji and the beach house, I think I realized why he kept thinking he was at GaGa’s house. We live about two and a half hours away from Benji. Anytime he is in the car for a lengthy time, he thinks he’s going to GaGa and PaPa’s. When they arrived at the beach, there was GaGa and PaPa. So, naturally, to a 2-1/2 year old, he must be at GaGa’s house!

In other words, GaGa’s house, whether at the beach or in the mountains, is where GaGa is! And as God so often does, He used Benji’s simple remark to remind me of an important spiritual truth: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19). God dwells within all true believers through His Spirit! I have to ask myself: “When others come into my presence, do they know God is in the house?” Can others see God in me? Can they glimpse even a small measure of His awesome glory in my words or in my actions?

  • Do I talk about Him? Sing about Him? Praise His name?
  • Do I honor Him in all that I do? In the way I work? In the things I say? In my attitude?
  • Do I do what’s right? Obey His Word? Follow His teachings?
  • Do I give Him credit for every blessing? For every success? For every way He rescues me, lifts me up, comforts me, and walks with me?
  • Do I use every opportunity to tell someone about Him?

 

Jesus told His disciples: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Paul taught the Corinthians: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). When we put God first in our lives and seek to live for Him, others are going to see some measure of His glory. They will know that the Spirit of God is at home in you and me.

A few weeks after returning home, our son sent a picture of Benji pointing to some plastic toy golf carts on a store shelf. “We ride these at GaGa’s beach house,” he had proudly announced. As I smile about this, I realize that, in time, Benji will learn that GaGa doesn’t really have a beach house – and I’m pretty sure, I never will. But much more than that, I pray that wherever he may be with GaGa, He sees evidence of God dwelling in me. And I pray that one day he will know the One who is at home in GaGa’s heart and that He will love Him and walk with Him all of his days. That will be a sweet taste of God’s glory to this GaGa!

 

 

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