Older and Wiser

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As we become older, we usually begin experiencing physical changes.  We may gradually lose our energy, or, as my mother would say, “I feel like my get up and go, got up and went.” What we could do in one day, may now take several days to complete. Our mind and soul are willing, but our body isn’t!

We may begin to question our worth, and even our worth to God. We remember the days of teaching Children’s Sunday School, assisting with the Youth Choir, helping with Vacation Bible School, or leading a small group. It can be depressing to realize those days are gone, and will only be a memory. However, God can still use each of us for his glory.

In the Bible, God used many people in their older years. God appeared to Abraham and promised to make his descendants into a great nation. For this to happen, Abraham had to obey God and travel to Egypt. He was 75 when he began this journey. (Genesis 12:1-4)

Anna’s brief marriage ended in widowhood, and she spent the remainder of her eighty-four years as a prophetess. She never left the temple, and worshiped day and night, fasting and praying. Simeon was also older, and it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Messiah. Simeon and Anna were in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be baptized. Both of them recognized Jesus identity as the Messiah, and they both gave God praise for the Savior. (Luke 2:21-38).

Moses was the leader of the Israelites. He was the author of the Pentateuch. He was also the recorder of the Ten Commandments.  At the age of 80, Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. His brother, Aaron, also lead the Israelites, and he was 83. (Exodus 7:7).

God wants to continue to use us, even in our older years. Psalm 92:14-15 tell us “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is not wickedness in Him”. Job 12:12 asks “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding.” Deuteronomy 32:7 tells us to “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you”.

If you are approaching, or in your “golden years”, remember that advancing age does not limit your usefulness. God can make each phase of life useful and meaningful.

You have a life-time of wisdom that can be shared with those who are younger. This wisdom could be shared with a family with young children. Perhaps you could walk alongside these parents, giving them words of encouragement.

If it is difficult for you to leave home, consider sending cards and making phone calls.  One thing that we can all do, is pray. We can pray for the sick, our families, our leaders, our church; anyone God lays on our heart.

You can “still bear fruit in old age”.

 

 

 

 

 

Where is God?

I published this post last summer, and feel led to share it again. I pray it provides some comfort and encouragement.

The last couple of weeks have been discouraging, at least as far as world events are concerned.  I don’t intend to discuss politics. I do wish to discuss the evil and violence we are seeing each day. There has been quite a bit going on and watching it over and over again on television or social media, can begin to take it’s toll on our emotions. It may leave some of use wondering where is God in all of this.

Where is God?  He hasn’t moved. We have. We have become so saturated with 24 hour news channels, and social media, that some of us have taken our eyes off of God. We really need to be careful, and not be so overcome with gloom and doom, that we forget about God’s love for us.

When God created mankind, he gave him free-will. Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, had free-will, and they chose to disobey God, and brought evil and sin into the world.

Every person on earth has the free-will to choose to obey or disobey God. Unfortunately, there are many who are choosing to disobey God, and are unleashing evil and violence on the world. They think they are in control, but they are not. God is still in control. God could remove evil from the world by taking away our free-will, but God didn’t want us to be robots. He gave us the free-will to sin, but he also gave us the free-will to obey and love Him. He wants us to freely choose to obey and love him.

So, where is God? He is where he has always been. He is answering prayers and wrapping His loving arms around victims of terrorism.  He is comforting the families of police officers, who were slain while protecting us. He is working in the hearts of those who are seeking healing for our nation, that appears to be coming apart at the seams.

God is waiting for us to turn our eyes back to Him. He is waiting for us to pray and ask for peace for our troubled hearts. He can give us peace and hope for our troubled world. We won’t find this in politics or government. Our hope comes from the maker of Heaven and Earth.

Jesus promised this peace to us in John 14:27.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

In the midst of the turmoil we are seeing on a daily basis, let us all remember this promise.

God,Jesus,Free-will,Peace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abba, Father

 

In our previous post, we discussed the death and resurrection of Jesus. God loves us so much, that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. God’s love for us can not be measured. It is truly a love that comes only from a Heavenly Father.

God knows everything about us, even the number of hairs on our head. (Matthew 10:30). He created our innermost being, and knit us together in our mother’s womb. (Psalms 139:13). Before a word is on our tongue, He knows it completely. (Psalms 139: 4).

God is always with us. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalms 139:7-10).

God knows what we need before we ask him. (Matthew 6:8). This doesn’t mean he will answer our prayers immediately. He will answer in His own way and in His own time.  He knows what is best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 tell us “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God provides for those who believe. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sew or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26).

God will never leave us or forsake us. “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”(Deuteronomy 31:8).

I just can’t imagine trying to live in this world without God loving me and  guiding my way. If left to myself, I hate to think of the mess I would make! God’s love is there when things are going great. God’s love is there to comfort me when things are going wrong. He never promised the road would always be easy; however, he did promise that he would walk with us. God’s love is there for all of us, if we pray, ask for it, and accept it.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creations, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

 

 

It’s Friday…but Sunday’s Coming

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Where I live, Spring is in full bloom. I always feel excited when the weather becomes warmer, the birds begin to sing, and the grass becomes green again. There is something special about this time of year. Spring brings hope for renewal, after the long, cold winter.

Thinking about the difference in Winter and Spring brings the miracle of Easter to mind. Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, sentenced to death by mere humans. Stop for a minute and think about that. Jesus, the precious Son of Man, was sentenced to die by Jewish and Roman authorities. After they crucified Jesus, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him (Luke 23:34-35). The soldiers mocked him (Luke 23:36).  I can only imagine how they celebrated.

It was about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he said this, he breathed his last breath. (Luke 23:44-46). Jesus’ body was taken down, wrapped in linen cloth and placed in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had been laid. While death might be compared to Winter, it wasn’t that way for Jesus. His resurrection, His Spring, was already planned.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning, stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words (Luke 24:1-8).

Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. Jesus took our place, and died for our sins on the cross. His body was broken and his blood was shed so that we can be forgiven for our sins and receive an eternal life in Heaven. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. To receive this forgiveness and eternal life, we have to ask forgiveness of our sins and strive to obey him. Jesus tells us in John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to light.”

What good news!

It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming!

Easter,Jesus,Christian,Joy

Joy Comes in the Morning

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Do you ever feel a little sad when the sunset gives way to dusk, and dusk turns to darkness? Perhaps we feel sadness because we know it will be hours before we see daylight again.

It is hard to see in the darkness; our eyes strain to see.  It is harder to walk in the darkness than in the daylight. It is easy to become disoriented and lose our way. Finding our way in the darkness is easier if we have someone walking with us.

When we travel through the valleys of life, it can seem like we are in darkness. We may be feeling the lowest we have ever felt.  We may be walking in the valley because of the death of a loved one.  The valley could also be caused by a divorce, or the loss of a job. At some point in our life, we will all have to wall through the valley of grief, hurt, or disappointment.

When we feel all alone in the valley of  darkness, God is there, walking beside us. We may feel distant from him, but he doesn’t leave us alone. He is there, waiting for us.  Holding tight to our Father’s hand can give us the strength and courage to continue.

In Psalms 119:105, David wrote “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. If we stay close to Him, He will light our way, and lead us out of the darkness. We will once again see that first glimmer of daylight and understand that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. Psalms 30:5

 

 

Is It Well With Your Soul? Part Two

In our previous post, we discussed the hymn “It is Well With My Soul”, written by Horatio Spafford. He could say all is well with his soul. Even though he had faced numerous tragedies in his life, including the deaths of his five children, he still relied on God for his strength.

In this post, I would like for us to focus on the words to the hymn. Read these words, and notice the depth of Spafford’s faith.

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

Is it well with your soul? The words of this hymn are as true today, as when they were written in 1873. We have to give up trying to control our life, and give control to the one who knows what we need, even before we know. He created our inmost being and He knitted us together in our mother’s womb. He knows our every move. He knows our every thought. Psalm 139:1-13.

If you want the kind of peace that Spafford writes about, pray and open your heart to the grace and mercy of our Savior. Admit you sins, and pray to be forgiven. Acknowledge that you believe in God. Keep praying and asking for His guidance over your life. He will be there with you, through every storm of life, if you keep your eyes and heart on Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It Well With Your Soul?

In this hymn written by Horatio Spafford, he can say all is well with his soul. Even though he had faced numerous tragedies in his life, he still relied on God for his strength.

It has been over a century since this song was written. Things have really changed during this time.  However, one thing hasn’t changed. We still experience trials. It is not a question of if we will face hard times, but when.

During troubled times, where do you find your strength?  Do you feed and strengthen your body each day, but not your soul?  Is your body strong, but your soul weak? Mark 8:36-37 asks the question “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

We don’t have to rely on our own strength. We can rely on the strength of God. “God is our refuge and our strength , an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3).

Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can stop God’s constant presence with us. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God didn’t promise Christians an easy life. He promised he would never leave us alone. He promised to be with us in the rough times. He can give us a kind of peace that can come only from Him. It is a kind of peace where we can say it is well with our souls.

 

 

 

 

 

I Forgive You

cropped-summer-sun-yellow-photography5.jpg    I Forgive You. These are just three words, but they can be the hardest for us to say. I think it could be our human nature interfering again. As long as we stay mad or hurt, we still have the option of seeking revenge, or getting even. It’s like we tuck that anger into a coat pocket and carry it around, just waiting for the right time to bring it out.

I have known people who live their life just waiting to get revenge. It’s like it is a game to them. They believe in the idiom “what goes around, comes around”. They are waiting for that person to get what they deserve. Forgive them? No way.

The Bible is clear that we shouldn’t seek revenge. Revenge isn’t ours, it belongs to God. Matthew 5:38-42 tells us we shouldn’t seek an ‘eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth’. If someone slaps us on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

Romans 12:18-19  says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord”. God’s wrath will be much, much greater than any revenge we could inflict on someone.

Our Father forgives us when we sin. When we refuse to forgive others, we deny that we are sinners, in need of God’s forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. Think about that for a minute. Our Father will not forgive our sins, if we don’t forgive others.

In the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor in Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked Jesus “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. Seventy-seven times. Many of us can’t forgive someone once, much less seventy-seven.

When our Savior was being hung on a cross to die for our sins,  Jesus asked forgiveness for his murderers. In Luke 23:34,  Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. Jesus asked forgiveness for his murderers, and we can’t forgive someone who cuts us off in traffic.

I recall seeing in the news, more than once, family members forgiving a person who murdered their loved one. How in the world can someone do that? It comes from us accepting God’s grace and mercy. When we have repented and accepted His grace and mercy, we are able to give that to others.

Are their people in your life you should forgive? Perhaps a co-worker, who spread gossip about you. Or maybe it is a family member who needs your forgiveness. It seems the ones who hurt us the deepest are the ones we love the deepest. Angry words can tear families apart. A spouse may say something, and the more you think about it, the deeper the hurt becomes.

We are supposed to forgive others, because God tells us we should. However, there is a peace that comes with forgiving someone who has hurt us or sinned against us. We don’t have to worry about getting revenge, God’s going to do that. We just need to forgive them. I’m not saying this will be easy, but when we pray and ask God to help us, anything is possible. We can forgive, with God’s help. We no longer carry around the weight of that anger. That burden is lifted and we are free to move on and leave that hurt behind us. When we say those three words, I Forgive You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Blink

cropped-summer-sun-yellow-photography5.jpg  It is that time of year again, when Social Media is full of tiny faces, smiling because it is the first day of Kindergarten. Their mommy has written their name and the date in chalk on a board, and they are smiling proudly for the camera. The mother posts in the comment section, that she just can’t believe they are old enough to go to Kindergarten. It seems like only yesterday they were newborns; now, in the blink of an eye, they are starting school.

Families are packing their cars and taking their teenagers to college for the first time. For some, this is their first experience with a child leaving home. They take pictures outside on the front porch at home, for one last time. The car is packed to the roof, and they head east or west on Interstate 40, taking their son or daughter to their destination. As they are driving away from the college, the parents both state they can’t believe their child is old enough to go to college. It seems like only yesterday they were starting Kindergarten; now, in the blink of an eye, they are starting college.

The “blink of an eye” can actually be several years, several minutes, or even several seconds. In life, we have the predictable things, such as a child starting Kindergarten, or a teenager starting college. We also have the unpredictable occurrences, such as a having a relative killed in a car accident, or lost to a deadly disease. Regardless of how it occurs, the “blink of an eye” can leave a hole in our hearts.

It truly does seem that time flies, that it passes in the “blink of an eye”. We can get so busy with our daily routine, that we fail to look at what truly matters, our family and close friends. We can be so busy trying to “get ahead” at work, that we fail to spend time with our family. The truth is, if we died tonight, our employer would clean out our desk and have someone in our place before we were cold.

I believe it would be fair to say that no one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time at work. They are probably thinking “if only”. If only I had seen more of my son’s baseball game. If only I had gone to more of my daughter’s dance recitals. If only I had taken my wife on that vacation she wanted.

It might be a really good idea for all of us to slow down a little and to spend more time with what really matters. God places people in our life. Our family and friends are a special gift from God. In the “blink of an eye” life can change. We should all be intentional about loving those under our own roof.

 

 

 

Alone in a Crowd

Have you ever felt like you were entirely alone, even in a crowd of people?  There could be a million people around you, and you still felt alone. If you are a “one” in a “plus one” society, you might have felt this way, probably more than once.

This is in no way a slam on marriage, or married couples. Married couples comprise a large part of the population. However, there are those who are married, but their spouse is not under the same roof. There are also those who have been married, but are now divorced or widowed. Then there are those who have never been married. These people are part of the “one” segment of society; and, they are often the ones who feel alone in a crowd.

It is very important for the “ones” to remember they fulfill some very important roles. The Bible gives examples of some “ones” who were faithful and fulfilled the mission that God gave them.

Anna, a prophet, was married for seven years, and then  a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, and spent her time praying and fasting. Mary and Joseph brought the eight-day old Jesus to the temple to be circumcised. Anna was one of the first people to see the Messiah. She saw him as a baby in Mary’s arms and knew he was the Messiah! Anna understood that God can make any stage of life meaningful.  Anna, a widow, a “one”,  was among the first to see our Messiah.

Jeremiah a prophet, was called by God to deliver his message to Judah. Jeremiah was obedient and delivered the message, often to people who refused to listen. He was rejected by his family, friends, kings, and his audience. God also told him he should never marry. This “one” was obedient and faithful to God’s call on his life.

Mary, Lazarus’s sister, poured expensive perfume on Jesus, and washed his feet with her hair. The disciples were upset that she had wasted the expensive perfume. They said the perfume could have been sold at a high price. Jesus asked why they were bothering Mary.  This “one” was preparing his body for burial.

Jesus, who never married, faced several times when he must have felt alone. In the beginning of his ministry, his own brothers did not believe in him. The night before he was crucified, his disciples couldn’t stay awake long enough to pray. On the day he was crucified, he cried out from the cross “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?”  Crowds were there to watch, but he felt alone as he died on the cross.

So, if you are going through life alone, remember that you are important to God. Some people have had to make the decision to place a spouse in a skilled facility. Others have had to say good-bye as their spouse entered into eternity. They are still around the same friends, same Sunday School class, same family, but without their spouse. This must be an incredibly difficult adjustment.

Some people face the life altering situation caused by divorce. They are now the head of the household and are responsible for all of the bills, house repairs, car repairs, and everything else that can occur on a daily basis. They have to discipline the children, only to have them go to the other parent’s house and be allowed to do as they wish.

You may be a “one” because you haven’t gotten married. Family and friends try to introduce you to someone “really nice”. There are the constant questions asking when you are going to “settle down”, as if being single means you can be settled on your own.

Regardless of how or why you are a “one”, you are never alone. Our Heavenly Father is always there for us. In Hebrews 13:5, He tells us “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He sent his Son to die on the cross for all of us. We are all important to Him, and he wants all of us to use our spiritual gifts.

Lonely,Widow,Divorced,Single,Plus One,God’s love