Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 1, 2016

An Abiding Hope

An Abiding Hope

As many of you know, my little two-year-old grandson was recently hospitalized for a couple of days with complications from RSV. Although he was sick, coughing, having difficulty breathing, and overall pretty miserable, my son and daughter-in-law told me that he would repeatedly say “all done” and “down” as he begged to get out of the bed. However, as he lay hooked up to monitors and IV, there was little possibility of his getting down. He may have been “all done” with what was going on, but unfortunately, he wasn’t quite through.

Have you ever felt like my grandson? I know I have. Sometimes, I’ve just been through with whatever battles or decisions I was struggling with and I have felt like screaming “I’m all done!” Yet, just as my grandson had to stay in bed and follow the doctor’s instructions, sometimes we, too, discover that no matter how much we feel “all done,” we’re just not through. Some battles we just have to fight; some struggles we just have to endure; some decisions we just have to face. And we’re not all done until we’ve fought, endured, and faced them.

So what do we do when we are in the midst of our struggles? Paul tells us in Romans 12:12 that we should “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Even in our difficulties we can rejoice – not because of what we’re going through – but because of the One who in whom we trust. As David cried: “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7). God is our Hope. He made us; He knows everything about us; He loves us with an unfathomable love; and He is with us in all things. As He spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Our lives are in His hand and our battles ultimately belong to Him. We can rejoice because of the hope we have in the Lord our God. We can be patient in tribulation as we trust our battles to Him. And as we constantly pray and seek Him, we find peace and joy in His Presence.

Yes, sometimes, when we’re in the middle of our struggles, we may feel like we’re “all done.” But in Christ we can have hope – an abiding hope – that blesses us with joy, patience, and peace in His Presence. Wishing you this abiding hope in 2016!

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.”

(Romans 15:13)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 16, 2015

Oh, How I Need Christmas!

Oh, How I Need Christmas!

I have always loved Christmas! I love decorating the tree, singing Christmas carols, wrapping presents, and doing all the extra cooking and baking. I love seeing the beautiful Christmas lights and the wonder and excitement on a small child’s face. And I never tire of hearing the story of that very first Christmas when Jesus was born.

But this Christmas, there is much turmoil in our nation and world. Protests and demonstrations over a wide range of issues have marked much of 2015 and acts of terrorism have practically the whole world on alert. Even in our own country, terrorist activities have killed, maimed, threatened our freedom, and created much worry and fear.  A recent Meet the Press poll discovered that the number one concern for Americans now is national security and terrorism. Somehow, stringing lights and wrapping presents while listening to reports of 14 people being tragically killed in a workplace gathering, seem strangely out of place. But, even in my own life I’ve discovered that it is in the darkest of times that I really need Christmas.

The troubles and worries we face today may seem far removed from that quiet hillside where the angels appeared to the shepherds with the good news of Jesus’ birth. Yet, historians remind us that the world into which Jesus was born was also an unsettled, fearful place.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the people of God were under the oppressive rule of Rome. In addition, factions within Israel – the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots – were competing and struggling with one another. Furthermore, it had been over four centuries since the nation of Israel had heard the word of God with Malachi being the last inspired prophet to speak. It was into that world of oppression, struggle, fear, and uncertainty that Jesus was born on that very first Christmas. And on a quiet night in Bethlehem, Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Jesus came.

On that first Christmas, Jesus came into a world that was filled with fear and uncertainty and He gave people a reason for hope. Jesus offers us the same hope in the midst of our troubled world today. Christmas reminds us that Jesus came …..

  • To be our Savior

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

  • To be our Light

“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).

  • To give us life

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

  • To grant us peace with God

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

More than ever, we need Jesus!

Jesus still extends His invitation to all who will receive Him. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

So, as I listen to the news reports of our troubled nation and world, I’ll still put up my tree, string the lights, and celebrate the One who came on that first Christmas, the only One who holds the answer to the troubles in our world. I’ll celebrate Christmas and rejoice as I remember the words that Jesus Himself spoke: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Oh, how I need Christmas! Maybe, you need Christmas, too!

 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

(John 1:12-13)

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 4, 2015

When You Feel Like Giving Up

When You Feel Like Giving Up

I don’t know about you, but when I heard about the most-recent mass shooting in Southern California, my first reaction was not one of horror. Sadly, such shootings seem to have become so commonplace that instead of reacting with horror or outrage, we grow more and more numb. Our hearts hurt for the innocent lives taken, the families that will never be the same, and we turn to everything from political action and cries for gun control to praying for God’s guidance and help. Yet, deep down, we can’t help but wonder where it will happen next. It kind of makes you just feel like giving up.

I can hardly fathom how our nation has changed since I was a child. In all honesty, I cannot fathom how much it has changed since my own children were small. As a believer in Christ, I know what the Bible says about the last days and I feel sure we must be in them.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) 

Yet I also remember what He said to His people.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Notice that the verse above is not addressed to unbelievers, but to believers. It is a reminder that God will act on our behalf when we honestly seek Him and turn away from our sin. Each of us need to be honest with ourselves as to whether we are truly seeking God or listening to the voices of the world. Has political correctness, failure to recognize sin as sin, and compromising the truth of God’s Word become all too familiar in your life and mine? Can we honestly say that we are humbling ourselves before God, seeking Him in all that we do, and turning away from our sinful ways?

 

My friend, the answer to mass shootings and to a world gone crazy does not rest in political activity. It rests in you and me. It depends on our humbling ourselves before God and seeking His mercy and forgiveness. It depends on our putting our faith in God rather than man. God can make the difference. He can defeat the enemies among us. He can raise up kings, rulers, and leaders and He can pull them down. Time and again in the Old Testament, God’s people discovered that the battle belonged not to them, but to the Lord. As David declared to Goliath: “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45,47).

No matter how much the terrible things happening in this world make us feel like giving up, it simply is not an option for a believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus made it clear that until He calls us home or until He returns, there are specific things we should be doing.

  • We should watch for His return (see Luke 12:35-37).
  • We should remain steadfast and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (see 2 Peter 3:14-18).
  • We should keep on working (see Luke 12:42-48).

Whether we like it or not, we’re in a battle – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The lives of our family members, friends, and even our enemies depend on our remaining faithful to Christ and following Him steadfastly in all that we do. May we not give up, but keep on trusting, keep on praying, keep on watching, keep on growing, and keep on working. If our persistence contributes to one soul coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, won’t it be worth it?

 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

(Revelation 22:20)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 16, 2015

Fearing or Trusting

 

Fearing Or Trusting

This morning as I was sweeping off my porch, I had to stop and smile.

This is  what I saw ….

IMG_1149

and this ….

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and this …

 

 

 

 

 

There were two black walnuts carefully hidden behind my rocking chair cushions and another placed on the banister beside a bottle of bubble solution which was left over from this summer. I had to smile because I knew exactly what my husband would say: “Those doggone squirrels! They make such a mess!” And they do! But I would counter: “But, they’re so cute, and they’re working hard!” And they are! So, instead of tossing the walnuts off the porch which I probably should have done, I left them where they were and I’ll watch to see when the squirrels return to find them. And they will!

But I think God used those squirrels to remind me of something this morning. You know it is so easy to allow our worries, struggles, and difficult days to consume our thoughts. And the more we focus on the problems, the less we trust in our Savior. But what do the squirrels do? They just keep on working. I glanced out in the field in front of our house and the squirrels were bouncing all over the place, digging and hiding nuts and other treasures. Occasionally, they would sit back on their little haunches and enjoy some tidbit they had discovered that was just too good to put away for later. And as I watched the crows and other birds join them, I was reminded of the following Scripture.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

(Matthew 10:29-31)

Just as God knows about those squirrels and birds, He knows about you and me. He knows what we’re facing today, and He tells us: “Do not fear.” While there is much to fear in our world today, there is also a God who knows us, loves us, cares for us, and values us more than we can ever comprehend. He offers us a secret place where we can find refuge even when bad things happen. As the Psalmist declares: He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord,He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust’” (Psalm 91:1-2).  

As I finished sweeping my porch, I left the walnuts where they were. In some way, they make me think of myself and the things I do. I pray that I will fear less and trust God more. I pray that as I let go of my worries and fears, I’ll be more able to keep on working, doing the things I know to do just as those busy squirrels do. None of us know what tomorrow may bring, but when we place our trust in Jesus, we can dwell in the secret place of the Most High God and abide under His shadow. The Lord Himself will be our refuge and fortress. With that assurance, may we all keep working until Christ returns – and one day He will!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 7, 2015

What Jesus Wants Me to Know

What Jesus Wants Me to Know

The past month, my little corner of the world has been a microcosm of life. It began with the wedding of one of my nieces, the celebration of my grandson’s second birthday, and the birth of a precious great-grand-niece. But interspersed amidst these joyous events were the declining health and loss of a dear neighbor; the horrible loss of a well-loved, happy 22-year-old that I could still remember teaching in kindergarten Sunday School; and, finally, the third anniversary of the loss of my first grandson. All of these things occurred within the span of about four weeks! My emotions were up and down like a roller coaster, vacillating between fullness and joy to loss and sadness.

I’m sure that most of us are all too familiar with such seasons in our lives – when the ordinary is interrupted by the more weighty things of life – those things that encourage us to think, ponder, and either rejoice or bemoan, the intricacies of life.

It encourages me to know that Jesus, Himself, encountered such times during His earthly ministry. One such time is recorded in Matthew 14. After John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod, the disciples went and told Jesus. Matthew tells us that after Jesus heard what had happened, He departed by Himself to a deserted place. Yet multitudes followed Him, so He continued to heal those who were sick. When it became late, He was so moved with compassion toward the multitude that He blessed and multiplied two fish and five loaves to feed over 5,000 men, plus women and children.

Jesus’ day did not end there, however. He sent His disciples in a boat to the other side, sent the multitudes away, and went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. The disciples, however, were in the boat in the middle of the sea and were being tossed about by the wind and waves. Matthew tells us that Jesus came to them in the fourth watch of the night (between 3:00 and 6:00 am) walking on the water. The disciples were overcome with fear until Jesus assured them who He was. Peter, in his exuberance, got out of the boat and attempted to walk on the water to Jesus, but became afraid and began to sink. Jesus saved Peter, got into the boat, and the wind ceased.

There is something so touching to me about this day in Jesus’ life. His first impulse was to depart to a deserted place by Himself. But life kept calling and He responded with compassion. Near the end of His day, He once again sought time alone as He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Mark tells us that “when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them” (Mark 6:47-48a). Once again, Jesus is needed and He responds.

But what is really interesting to me is something else that Mark states. “He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by” (Mark 6:48b). Would Jesus really have just walked past them when He had seen them struggling and had come to them? On the contrary, I think that even in the midst of such a trying and demanding day, Jesus saw something that the disciples needed even more than a quick fix to their problem. They needed to really know who He was. He wanted them to understand His deity and mastery over all creation. As Mark relates after the wind ceased: “And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:51-52).

Are we just like Jesus’ disciples? Do we, too, sometimes, fail to consider who Jesus is and what He offers to us when life happens? Do we relegate Jesus to the pages of the Bible, someone we hear about on Sunday, and while we don’t disbelieve Him, we fail to recognize who He is and what He can do in your life and mine?

This passage encourages me that when my days are good or when they are difficult, when my way is easy or when it is chaotic and challenging, and when I am experiencing great joy or much sadness; God is there – and just as He wanted the disciples to know; He wants me to know, too, that He is Creator and Master of the universe; that He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable; and that He is with me!

“And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that 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 rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

(Ephesians 1:19-21, ESV)

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 21, 2015

Is My God Able and Willing?

Is My God Able and Willing?

Recently, I stumbled on the following quote by the ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?”

My first reaction was “Yes, my God is able; Yes, my God is willing; Yes, my God is God!” And while my answer remains the same, I realize that the above quote captures the questions that plague so many of us when we face difficulties or trials. Why does God heal one person, but not another? Why do innocent people suffer? Why does evil triumph over good? Where is God when our world is turned upside down?

Let me preface what I have to say with a simple disclaimer. I am not a theologian. Countless books have been written – and I’ve read quite a few – that purport to answer these questions. I agree with some of these explanations, disagree with others, but I am convinced that the Bible reveals a God who is able and willing, a God who is truly God.

Is God able?

Do you think Abraham questioned God’s ability? God had promised Abraham: “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you” (Genesis 17:6). Yet, Abraham, was an old man and he had no heir. “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” (Genesis 17:17). Did it not seem impossible? Yet God had declared: “’I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’” (Genesis 17:1).

Almighty God is translated from the Hebrew “El Shaddai” and can be interpreted as the all-sufficient One and One with absolute power. Nothing is too hard for God. Just as God allowed the heir of the promise to be born to Sarah and Abraham, even in their old-age, He can do the impossible in your life and mine. God is able.

Is God willing?

Would an unwilling God send His own Son into the world to suffer and die in order to save us? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus explained why He had come. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). God loves us with an unfathomable love. He is for us and wants to bless us. One of the most well-know Scriptures that is often quoted to graduates and others stepping out into the world reminds us that God is for us, not against us. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:11-12).

Yes! The God we see revealed in the Bible is both able and willing. In fact, He has already defeated the enemy through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet, until He comes again and establishes His kingdom on earth, the enemy is still at work trying to keep God’s people from accomplishing God’s purposes. Paul warned the Ephesians about this battle with evil. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:12-13). Peter also warned the readers of his letter about this adversary. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

But God is not only able and willing, He is God! Proverbs 19:21 states: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand (ESV).” Job declared: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). God knows and sees everything and no matter the trouble or difficulty we may face, we can know that our God is in control. The only proper response to our Sovereign God is one of complete submission, trusting our situation and all of our questions completely to Him.

But even in His sovereignty, God knows our frame. And He also gives us a promise to which we can cling: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). No matter the trouble or difficulty a believer faces, he has this precious promise that his sovereign, loving God, is working out everything – yes, everything – for good!

There are many things in this world that we will never be able to fully understand or explain, but the only place to surrender our questions is at the feet of our Lord and Savior. And as we lay it all before Him, we have His promise that He is busy working everything out for good. He is able. He is willing. He is God!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 6, 2015

I Have a Problem

I Have a Problem

I have a problem. My problem is like the shadow in the well-known poem by Robert Louis Stevenson: “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, and what can be the use of him is more than I can see.” My problem is like that shadow. It’s always with me, but I can’t get rid of it because the problem is me!

I have a “me” problem and chances are, you may have a “me” problem, too. What is a “me” problem? It is the tendency to evaluate situations and make decisions according to what I think, how I see things, what I understand, and what I can do. But as Proverbs 21:2a warns: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.”

God created us and gave us minds that can think, plan, figure things out, and make decisions. The choice Eve made in the garden was in direct disobedience to what God had told her, yet the Bible tells us that she “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6). She relied on what seemed right to her. Do we not do the same thing every day? Just as the proverb above warns, in our own eyes, we think we are right. We make decisions, form opinions, and act on what we think rather than on what God says.

Time and time again, verses in Scripture remind us to trust and rely on God.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

These two Scriptures and many others like them remind us that just because it seems right to us, that does not mean it is necessarily right. When we trust God instead of relying on our own understanding, we weigh every thought and decision against the word of God. We commit everything to Him, seeking Him first above all things.

I am learning that when I trust God rather than relying on myself, God takes over.

  • He helps me to worry less and seek Him more.
  • He helps me to fear less and to believe Him more.
  • He helps me to replace despair and discouragement with peace and hope.
  • He helps me to let go of anger and bitterness and to love and pray for others.

When I place my faith and trust in God, He does in me, for me, and through me what I cannot do in my own strength. And as I walk with Him, commit my way to Him, and yield to Him, He works to make me more like His Son.

I want to be more and more like Jesus, but I know I have a long way to go because of my “me” problem. But as Proverbs 21:2 reminds us, God weighs our hearts. He knows me through and through. He knows my desires and He knows my weaknesses. He knows my heart. The more I seek Him, believe Him, and trust Him as I walk with Him daily, the more He will take over my “me” problem as He lives in and through me.

An old hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” written by Dallan Forgail in the 8th century, expresses so well the plea of a heart that is trusting completely in the Lord, crying out for the Lord to be his vision, wisdom, battle shield, sword, dignity, delight, shelter, and tower; and declaring “Thou and Thou only, first in my heart; High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.” I pray that the petition in these lyrics will more and more reflect the prayer of my heart and that my “me” problem will grow more and more dim as my Lord is truly first in my heart. May this be your prayer, too.

 

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 22, 2015

My Bucket List

My Bucket List

I’m sure that most people are familiar with the term “bucket list.” If not, it is a list of achievements, goals, dreams, and experiences that a person hopes to accomplish during his or her lifetime. It is all those special things that you would like to do before you die!

Do you have a bucket list? If not, there are even web sites available that contain ideas for things you might like to include on such a list such as traveling to exotic or beautiful places, training for and running in a major marathon, or even learning a new skill or sport.

I do not have a bucket list, but over the past few days I experienced a few things that made me think about it. I looked at the pictures of a precious newborn baby proudly displayed by an ecstatic grandmother. What joy thinking of this child’s future and the open, unmarked slate before her. I enjoyed a wedding shower for a young couple who will be married next month. Their happiness was contagious as they look forward to beginning a whole new chapter in their lives. And then I attended the funeral of a dear 90 – almost 91-year-old lady – and reflected on the rich years of her life.  From great joy, to happy expectation, to thoughtful sadness – all in the matter of a few days. Each of these events, in their own ways, made me think about life.

As the pastor said during the above referenced funeral service, none of us have anything to say about when, where, or to whom we are born. We have nothing to say about when we will die. But we have a lot to say about what happens between those two points. The lives we live between birth and death will be marked by our choices and decisions, things we do or fail to do, our joys and our sorrows, our victories and our defeats.

King Solomon examined much about what happens between the time of birth and death in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon, the son of King David, began his earthly rule seeking and following God. However, he slowly began to drift from God and sought fulfillment in other things. Many of these things he addresses in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon sought fulfillment in having great wisdom (Eccl. 1:12-18), in pleasure (Eccl. 2:1-3), in his accomplishments (Eccl. 2:4-6), and in his possessions (Eccl. 2:7-17), but none of these things brought satisfaction. Solomon concluded in Eccl. 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”

If King Solomon had made a bucket list as he searched for satisfaction in life, he would have probably included acquiring more knowledge, having more fun, completing impressive projects and experiments, and amassing great wealth. But after all was said and done, he realized that only one thing really brought satisfaction and fulfillment – “to fear God and keep His commandments.” Wisdom, pleasure, accomplishments, or possessions could not deliver true fulfillment in life. That comes only through one’s relationship with God.

You and I may not know the date that will mark the end of our lives on earth, but each day that we are given is another opportunity to honor God with our lives. Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon reminds us that life is not always fair. Injustice often prevails. Yet King Solomon advises us to joyfully live the days we are given and to work willingly and heartily (see Eccl. 9:7-10). Each new day is a precious gift to spend wisely.

Perhaps I should start thinking about my bucket list. I know I can’t run in a marathon and I doubt I can afford much travel to exotic locations. But there are a few things I’ve always wanted to do, so maybe I’ll start that list just in case I have the opportunity. But whether I’m able to enjoy all of these things before I die, my bucket is already overflowing because of the love, mercy, and grace of my Heavenly Father and the life I have in Him. And one day when I come to that last date in my life, I know that a glorious new life in Heaven awaits where “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9) – to enjoy forever – no bucket list needed!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 11, 2015

Always Remember and Never Forget

Always Remember and Never Forget

Today, as we remember the pain and loss of 9/11, we often hear the expressions: “We’ll always remember” and “We’ll never forget.” But will we?

Do we remember the 9 million soldiers who lost their lives and the 21 million more who were wounded by the time World War 1 ended?

Do we remember the staggering losses of World War II, the struggle that killed more people, cost more money, and damaged more property than any other war in history? In fact, the number of killed, wounded, and missing or unaccounted cannot even be calculated. Most estimates claim that more than 55 million people perished.

Do we remember Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War?

Do we remember the countless lives lost or forever changed as the result of sacrifices made?

I had a college professor who used to caution students about using words like always and never in compositions. The word always can be defined as “every time, each time, all the time, without fail.” The word never can be defined as “not ever, at no time, not at any time, not once.” My professor’s point was that rarely could one write on any subject using such absolutes.

Through the years, I’ve often been reminded of my professor’s advice. Rarely, can I use the words always and never to describe things I do or fail to do. Even with those good things that I really want to do, I rarely can say that I do them always. But there is One who can say those words – and He said them without qualification.

  • Jesus said that those who follow Him would never walk in darkness.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).

  • Jesus said we can never come to the Father except through Him.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

 

  • Jesus said that those who come to Him would never perish, but would have everlasting life.

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).

  • Jesus said He would never refuse anyone who came to Him.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:37-39).

  • Jesus said He would always be with us.

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

  • Jesus said His Word would never pass away.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

The above statements are just a few among many absolutes that Jesus promised us in Scripture. And these are promises that I don’t want to ever forget. Thankfully, Jesus promised us that He would help us remember all that He said. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). So when I’m having difficulty or facing struggles, I can be sure that His Spirit will help me to remember what I have in Christ and will assure me of His Presence with me whatever my need.

It is good to remember. Remembering can help us to correct past mistakes and make worthwhile changes. It can motivate us, inspire us, and encourage us. Remembering can help us recognize those who made sacrifices and spur us to find ways to honor them in things we do. Jesus, Himself, during His last supper with His disciples told them to remember Him. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). When we do this during our Communion services today, we are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice and what He did for us. As we remember, we are challenged to live for Him and to honor Him in all that we do. Oh, how I pray that I will always remember what Christ did for me and that I will never forget! May that be your prayer, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 1, 2015

Wiping Away Fingerprints

Wiping Away Fingerprints

Early Monday morning I set out to get our house in order after a busy weekend. While our house pretty much always looks lived in, it was clearly evident that life had happened over the weekend. We were blessed with family, dogs, food, and fun – inside, outside, and yes, even sometimes upside down. My kitchen also showed the effects of cooking, churning ice cream, and packing it all up to take to our family reunion. I felt blessed, but my house looked worn out!

But as I began cleaning up all the clutter and mess, suddenly it all became bittersweet – especially when I came to the fingerprints on the glass storm door. There were sweet little fingerprints smudged all over the glass from my grandson’s tiny hands. I swear there were even nose and lip prints on that door, too! As I looked at those little fingerprints, I couldn’t help but think of the countless little fingerprints I had washed off doors, windows, and tabletops through the years – each tiny one so special and precious. And it made me think of God!

You see, among my greatest blessings from God has been the privilege of holding tiny hands – those of my own children, now a grandchild, and many others that I have been privileged to teach in preschool Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I have never grown tired of seeing those tiny little hands dipped in paint and then pressed on paper to make a keepsake print for a parent. Each time I was reminded of how precious each of those little hands were, not only to me, but even more so to God Himself, the Creator, the One who formed each one in the womb.

Do you realize that you, too, are precious to God? As adults, sometimes, we forget that we are truly loved and treasured by God. None of us are accidents or mistakes. God created each one of us and fashioned our days (see Psalm 139). He has a plan and purpose for each of our lives. Sin, however, separates us from God. Yet, before we were even born, God planned a way to restore us to fellowship with Him by sending His Son to bear the penalty for our sins and to give us the gift of eternal life. As Jesus told Martha, the sister of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). When we believe and say yes to Jesus, we invite Him to come into our lives and fulfill His purpose in us. Not only do we find purpose and meaning through Christ, but we are also eternally secure in Him. No one or anything can snatch us out of His hand (see John 10:27-28). We are safely held by him – even when we stumble, fall, or fail.

God creates, plans, shapes, pursues, and cares for us with an everlasting love. He continually looks after us and cares for us. He sees and knows both our struggles and our joys. We are continually in His thoughts and on His mind. As the Psalmist declares: “And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” (Psalm 40:5b).

Isaiah, the prophet, told the people of Israel: “See, I (God) have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me” (Isaiah 49:16).  As I wiped those tiny smudged fingerprints from the glass door, I was reminded that God will never wipe away, scratch off, or remove the names of His children. We are forever inscribed upon His hands and always under His watchful care. We are His children and each of us – young, old, or somewhere in-between – are treasured, loved, and precious to Him!

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