Monday, June 30, 2014

Halfway through 2014...and a minute to pause

"I returned and saw under the sun that-- The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all." Ecclesiastes 9:11

I just realized, 2014 is half gone already. I feel it barely started and here we are at the beginning of July. Do you ever feel you "can't keep up?" I have felt that way ever since I was in my early twenties. Now the years roll by faster and faster, and each one blurs right into the next. I can't keep up.

The wisest man on earth, Solomon, tells us, no matter how many toys we collect, no matter how high up the ladder of success we crawl, no matter how much fame and fortune we amass, still,
"time and chance happen to them all." Kind of equalizes all of our playing fields, from the richest CEO to the poorest child lying in a refugee camp somewhere. We can't outwit the passing of time, or the day God has appointed for us to leave this earth.

And so, halfway through this year, I think to myself, am I going where I want to be going in this year 2014? What matters to me the most? I believe there is more waiting beyond this life. One day, which will seem like the blinking of an eye, I will stand in front of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and give account for the time He gave me here on earth.

If you ask my family, they will tell you I have a weakness for collecting books. It is evidenced in every room of my home. Yet, when I get right down to it, when am I finally going to have the time to sit down and read every one of them? Is this what I need to do, right here, right now, in light of the times? And so, I am slowly parting with some of them.

Eureka! I cannot do it all, I know that to be true. I am not the woman who can "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan..." as the old perfume commercial goes. No, I am just me, with my many limitations. But I have the gift of this day, and how I choose to spend it is up to me.
I want to choose that one thing that is necessary, as all the distractions clamor for my attention:

"...one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phil.3:12-13

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Remembrance of the Passing of Time

"I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread." Psalm 37:25

While shopping for groceries today, I recognized a familiar face. I couldn't recall just where I saw her before. I thought for a little bit and then realized, it was the face of a woman who cashiered at our local Foodland,gone for at least 15 years now. I thought I might say something to her, but then thought better of it, thinking she would think I was crazy if I told her I remembered her from there. But on the next aisle, she told me that my face looked familiar. And so we had a pleasant chat. She still wore the same hairstyle, only time had worn her face, and I am sure mine looked aged to her as well.

When I shopped there, it was a totally different stage of my life: the stage of being a young mother with three hungry mouths to feed. There was healthy competition in our shopping district because we had two grocery stores separated by a discount store in between. I hunted out the bargains in each place for the best value for my growing family. The woman always worked hard at the store, I remembered asking her for rainchecks on items that sold out. She always wore a pleasant smile. Now, that store has twice been replaced, and soon will be vacant once again. Nothing comes to stay.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Time... you see people and then you don't see them. We are mere shadows walking the face of this planet. I am ashamed to say I used to get inwardly annoyed with a man who took forever to get across the street with his cane. He and his wife always walked about the neighborhood together. Now, I only see her.

Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them. Psalm 39: 6

My father mowed a graveyard as a young man, way out in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, a version of a known epitapah appeared on one of the graves. As a young girl, I went down to visit that graveyard, entranced by the message on the old gravestone. My father, now an old man, can still recite the verse on the stone:

Remember this, as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you will be
Prepare for death and follow me.

Sobering thought for a child but now it has great impact as the years fly by. I "am" now, but my days are fleeting upon this earth. I need not get caught up in the cares and anxieties of this life, for it is just a fleeing shadow, real life begins where God is, not here on this planet. Although, right now, I have His eternal life by His grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

As I face perplexing trials, I need not worry about tomorrow. I do not know where I will be tomorrow, but I can trust that my Father above will always be faithful no matter what I am going through.

"Behold, blessed is the one who God reproves; therefore despise not the the discipline of the Almighty, For He wounds, but He binds up; He shatters, but His hands heal. He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you. In famine He will redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and shall not fear destruction when it comes." Job 5:17-20

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remembering Those in Prison ...

"Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill treated, since you yourselves are also in the body." Hebrews 13:3

I read this verse today in my time with the Lord. How appropriate, for there are a countless number of brothers and sisters behind bars because they name the name of Jesus. Just how can I remember them?

Looking up the word "remember" in the Blue Letter Bible (blueletterbible.org) it is from the Greek word #3415 mimn─ôskomai, and here are the meanings:
to remind
to be recalled or to return to one's mind, to remind one's self of, to remember
to be recalled to mind, to be remembered, had in remembrance
to remember a thing
be mindful of

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3403&t=NASB

Thinking about those who are in prison for their faith is not a pleasant thing to think about, at least from my worldly standpoint. Who wants to consider that there are those who are enduring beatings and torture for the name of Jesus? But Jesus had another viewpoint about those who suffer, totally different than the worldly way I naturally see it.

In the Beatitudes recorded in Matthew's gospel, Jesus says: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5: 10-12)

Now that is not the natural way of looking at persecution. If you go to the Voice of the Martyrs website, (persecution.com) you can read about increasing amounts of persecution growing around the world as the love of men grows cold. It is not something that is comfortable to do, but it is reality for thousands and thousands of people across this planet.

One of the most simple ways to "remember the prisoners" is to lift them up in prayer to the Lord. I spoke with a representative from Voice of the Martyrs, and she told me that this is their number one request. Prayer is our one offensive weapon to use against the kingdom of darkness. We can pray not only that the prisoners will have food to eat but that the Holy Spirit would recall to their minds spiritual food as well. We can ask for God to surround them with His peace, even for His angels to minister to them. There are so many ways we can pray for the prisoners. I think one of the best ways is to find appropriate Scriptures and pray them to God, because He ultimately honors His Word.

John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

We may not be able to physically go to their prisons to visit them that are in bonds, but we can visit them by communing with God in prayer for them. These are members of our very own Body!

Romans 12:5: "so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." and also I Cor. 12:12 "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ."

It is hard to understand why this amount of suffering is going on, and why so many are being martyred at this time. But we must trust that the Lord is in control of all things, and know that if we pray for the persecuted, it is as we are doing it unto the Lord.

Matthew 25: 34-40
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Proclaim Forth His Victory

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

I read in Revelation 11:15 today: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever."

If God is dwelling in eternity future already, He sees this verse as a done deal. The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ already. We are just waiting to see the outward fulfillment of this in time.

Therefore, we can have boldness as we approach the Throne of grace in prayer. We can come to God proclaiming forth His victory over principalities and powers, and the enemy. We don't just have to give him a laundry list of what we want Him to do for us, but praise Him for what is already done.

One of the greatest things I like to thank Him for is wiping out all the transgressions I have committed, that proclaimed me guilty as charged. Colossians 2:13-15 declares:

"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."

The confession part is for my sake, for He has, according to this verse, forgiven all my sins already. The confession is for relieving my guilty conscience. He hasn't just forgiven mine, but those of the whole world! The only thing that stands between an unbeliever and God is their refusal to believe. But their sin, it has already been paid for. I John 2:2 says:

"And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

The victory is accomplished! I can praise God for what He has done, knowing it is perfect and complete, and according to the Word, I am also complete in Him.

Colossians 2:9-10 "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

When we face problems, we can approach them with confidence, knowing that Jesus won that day on the cross 2,000 years ago.

John 19:30 "When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And he bowed His head, and gave up His spirit."

The word for finished is #5055 in the Greek Lexicon, teleo. It means: end, goal. To make an end or accomplishment, to complete anything, not merely to end it, but bring it to perfection or its destined goal, to carry it through. (definition from Lexical Aids to the New Testament compiled by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D)

Isn't that great news? When we approach God with our problems, first we can thank Him for the great victory He has wrought through His Son, Jesus Christ. This victory can never be taken away from us.We always have hope as a believer, no matter how great our problems. When we start our prayer with this thought, somehow it takes our mind off the smallness of our problem and onto the greatness of God.

Psalm 111:1-2

"Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart,
In the company of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the LORD;
They are studied by all who delight in Him."


Let us delight in Him today. Amen.