Wednesday, November 25, 2015
For a nation
I read these words this morning, as if it were for the first time. The words resonated within my spirit, for I feel that I am also like Jeremiah, watching his beloved nation falling from the Lord's favor and into judgment.
I used to think I would always be safe in America. I read about all the terrible things that happened in World Wars I and II and inwardly breathed a sigh of relief at least to know that warfare had not come to our own shores, even if, sadly, we lost hundreds of thousands of brave men and women across the seas. The security I felt is no more. Each day seems to get crazier, with some of the headlines we see. The America I was proud of is really not the same America anymore.
I have had freedom and plenty for all of my years, yet deep within our nation I sense we are lacking the one thing we need to keep our country together: the fear of God. The fear of God is lost to the church and society in general. I do not fear God or thank Him nearly enough for all His blessings to me. Having so much at my disposal has caused me to be careless in my attitude towards God. I am not running for my life (yet) nor have I been imprisoned. But we see the signs all around us. Our freedoms are being whittled away. Just like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, I sit in front of the computer or TV and do not take full advantage of the opportunity that freedom has afforded me.
And yet God still longs to be gracious to someone like me. Where else do I have to go but to Him? I try to find happiness like the rest of the world seems to be striving after, but every single day there is a longing for something more meaningful that keeps tugging at my heart. I am probably way past the halfway mark of my life. I do not know when my time of opportunity to get to know God on this side of eternity could suddenly end.
Carpe diem. Seize the day, the very moment I am in right now, I try to remind myself. For the same writer of the above verse, Jeremiah, in the same book tells us a most gracious promise. Right in the middle of his bitter complaint, Jeremiah remembers something that will turn his eyes off his situation and back onto the Only Helper, the Lord Jesus Himself.
"Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
This I recall to mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord's mercies
we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
'The LORD is my portion,'
says my soul,
Therefore I hope in Him!"
Jeremiah 3: 19-24
Tomorrow, I can truly be thankful not only for a plateful of food but for His portion given to me as a free and unmerited gift. He will ever remain faithful, no matter whatever dark clouds we see looming on the horizon. And our life is but a moment on the line of eternity.
I thank Him for my problems, for they keep me depending on Him. I thank Him for sustaining me in life every single day. Let me thank Him even for my breath. Without Him, I have nothing, but with Him I have all things. Can you join me this Thanksgiving with your own portion full? If not, you can believe on Jesus Christ today and truly have something to be grateful for tomorrow.
3 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus..." I Timothy 2:3-5
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I awoke this morning overflowing with gratitude for how God has taken a nobody (that's me) and made them a somebody, all thanks to the kindness of Another. I thank Him for opening my eyes today to the beauty of the Scriptures of Truth and all the promises He gives us, due to the work of the Second Person of the Trinity.
His promises remain ever fresh, ever new each morning. No matter how bleak our circumstances, God is wanting to help us, if only we turn to Him. I thank Him for allowing difficulties in my life, because they have impelled me to seek His face. Our enemy is constantly working, trying to blind us to the fact of God's grace and goodness. He wants us to stay in the dark. But our Heavenly Father exists only in light, and there is no darkness in Him. (I John 1:5) He is ever in the background, cheering, rooting for us helpless creatures whenever we turn away from looking to ourselves and put our confidence in Him.
Last night I gave my first book talk at our local library covering how and why I wrote the book Sure Mercies:Hope for the Suffering(published by 4RV Publishing). The day before I got so nervous, I began to cry. That night, at our ladies Bible study, our teacher reminded us of the prayers of the saints. In Revelation 5:8 we see a picture of our prayers as the Lamb of God, Jesus unwraps the scroll to loose the seals in heaven, being found the only One that was worthy to do so.
"Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."
In Revelation 8:3, we read, "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."
Our teacher reminded us that ALL of our prayers, past, present and future, are already in that bowl before God. Suddenly I realized that my prayers for my first book talk were in that bowl too, and that God knew exactly what my prayers would be before I even prayed them. That really lifted my soul, and as I sat at the Bible study, the Spirit brought another verse of comfort to mind from Psalm 34:5.
"They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed."
That verse could almost be a life verse for me. For before I came to know of His overwhelming love and grace toward me, I was filled with shame. I was most definitely not radiant. But now, my heart burns within me, because He has put a new song in my mouth, one of praise to my God. I know that He loves us, He proved it by dying for us on the cross when we could not lift a finger to help ourselves.
"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:3
That's what my book is about, even if it only scratches the surface telling the goodness of our God. God came through for each and every person I wrote about in my 40 chapters, and He comes through daily for me. I want others to know, "How great is my God!"
If you happen to be reading this and seem to be facing an insurmountable problem, I beg you today to look to the Lord, for He is able to do beyond what we could ever ask or think,
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us..." Ephesians 3:20.
He is able!!
(Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering is available through 4RV http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/megan-vance.php They are currently running a Christmas special. It is also available through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com )
Thursday, November 12, 2015
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
Isaiah 40: 14-15
I had a window seat on my trip home from Texas, on the leg from Atlanta to Pittsburgh. When the plane took off, the skies were clear blue, even as I heard of bad weather erupting in other parts of the country. There was no sign of it as we ascended northward out of Dixie land. It's been a while since I gazed out the window of an airplane and beheld the cities below grow smaller and smaller, the cars looking like ants speeding along on their path. Every one is so busy, going only God knows where. I was reminded of the nations being only a drop in the bucket before God who looks down on the affairs of men, all the while in perfect love and justice.
I spent a few precious days with my son and his family in the Lone Star State. Everything is so big there, including all the traffic jams. (That is one thing I appreciated driving home from the airport. Pittsburgh highways are not like Texas highways.) I was reminded there how my son's little boy is growing so fast. His little hands and feet are pudgy, and remind me of his Daddy's when he was my little boy. My eyes wanted to fill many times when I rode in the back of my son's truck with my grandson. How amazing it is to witness his pure trust in his Daddy and Mommy for everything in his young life. Little sneakers dangled out of the car seat, even as he remained clutching his toy airplanes for dear life.
Luckily my grandson was still sleeping when we left to come home early on Veteran's Day. I hastened into his nursery and blew a little kiss onto his forehead silently as not to wake him. It was easier to say goodbye that way. I didn't want to even think about how long it might take until we see them all again. My tears came later as the plane prepared for takeoff.
We celebrated a milestone while I was there, as my eldest turned thirty. It didn't seem possible that three decades have gone by since I became a mother for the first time. But life has changed a lot in the world since 1985. There were no cell phones, no internet even, and the world "seemed" a safer place. Really, has it ever been safe since Adam's fall?
When my son was tiny, I foolishly thought that if the Lord were to come back too early, I would miss out on raising my family. But now I know there is nothing else this world needs more than the Lord. It seems everyone now knows there are no real solutions for the problems of mankind. Christ alone will make things right on this planet.
Now that I am settled back on my own turf on a windy November night, I'm reminded that I am especially homesick for the coming Kingdom. I pray that even if just in the smallest of ways, I am seen as a little child also before my Savior. I hope He beholds one somewhat like my grandson, a child waiting patiently, trusting in the love of her Heavenly Father to provide all her needs until that glorious Day.
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3