Sunday, January 31, 2016

While I Have My Being

Psalm 104: 1, 33-34

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, You are very great!
You are clothed with honor and majesty...

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the LORD.

If I would really try to number my days, I would be more careful to be occupied with Christ. For I  see before my eyes how fleeting my days really are, each day when I look into my 8x magnification mirror in the morning and see my face getting older. A dear friend just lost her Dad to Alzheimer's and as I watch loved ones struggling with memory issues, I am reminded that my day, too, is coming. I might be faced with memory issues. I remember Mom saying that I had my whole life ahead of me. I was sitting in the backseat of our Ford Country Sedan that day and my legs hardly reached over the edge of the seat. I remember it like yesterday, though it was almost fifty years ago.

I can walk into a room and forget what I went in there for, or catch myself repeating the same story. I don't like it. But it is all part of the seasons of life. Just like there are four seasons in nature, it seems there are fall and winter seasons as we age and prepare for life after death.In some ways, I don't mind the fact that I am growing older, for I really don't want to have to learn life lessons over again.

But reading this Psalm this morning, I was encouraged to resolve that I can yet praise God while I have my being. In the limited amount of days God give me, with mind intact,  I can choose to put on the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and let His Words dwell richly within me (Col. 3:16).

Each day I must choose. It's easy for me in the morning, but as the day wears on I find that I can easily lose my focus. Sometimes when I hit the pillow I am so relieved to just pull up the covers and call it a day. But in the morning, He renews my strength.

How about you? If I think that I am in my mid 50's already, I probably only have a couple of decades left, if that. I don't want to be bitter. I don't want to have regrets. So I must choose now to keep off the  old man and clothe myself afresh each day with the mind and thinking of Christ. In this way, I can choose happiness with the number of days left allotted to me on this planet. And if my memory starts to go, I hope that the memories that remain will be thoughts of how precious my Savior and Lord is, and how much He proved His love to me, and not only to me, but to the whole world.

Each day I choose, now, so that hopefully at the end I will die like the Psalmist, so glad in the LORD, and anticipating a glorious and hope filled future. The time to do it is now.

"...Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." Hebrews 3:15

Monday, January 18, 2016

Light Overwhelms this World's Darkness

Most assuredly I am saying to you, He who habitually hears My word and is believing on the One who sent Me has life eternal, and into judgment he does not come, but has been permanently transferred out of the sphere of death into the life. Most assuredly I am saying to you, There comes an hour and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those having heard shall live.

John 5: 24-25
New Testament an Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1961

I read these words this morning, as I have read them many times before, and they came alive to me. Those who have believed really will not come into judgment! There is a day coming... when the dead shall really hear the voice of the Son of God.

I believe with all my heart that day is drawing near quickly. This new year of 2016 has not gotten off to a good start if you just even look at the economy. But that's only the start of our problems. Man is cruel and beastly toward his fellow man. There's no more right and wrong, every man does what is right in his own eyes, just like in the days of the judges of Israel. (Judges 21:25)

But yet my heart is overflowing with hope, even in a world where nothing seems to make sense anymore. I think of Jesus' claims: He is the Light, the Bread, the Door, the Good Shepherd of the sheep. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

As I was praying, I was overcome with a thought for a friend who has a loved one suffering from depression. This person has become overwhelmed with the thought that we are living in the last times. But I was convinced that if he could just grab hold of the fact that Jesus is the Light of the world, his burden could be lifted, as mine was many years ago.

I used to be overwhelmed with all the sadness of the world. I was told I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders and told to lighten up, crack a smile, wipe the worry lines off of my young face. But I could not.

Today, the world is worse. But yet I have hope. How could it be that you have hope, someone might ask. Just take one of the claims of Jesus: He is the light of the world.

Wuest again brings out beautifully the gist of  Jesus' claim here:

"Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I alone, in contradistinction to all others, am the light of the world. He who habitually follows with me shall positively not order his behavior in the sphere of the darkness, but shall possess the light of the life." John 8:12 Wuest translation, emphasis mine

Just one of Jesus' many claims, and yet what a promise to lay hold of. I hate it when I get up at night and it is pitch black. One time, I was staying at my sister's house in the country and was sleeping in their game-room downstairs. A summer storm hit and knocked out the electricity. I needed to use the bathroom but could not see anything around me, it was pitch black. I didn't know which way to go, whether left or right, and kept bumping into things. For that moment, I felt overwhelmed by the darkness all around me, yet also an urgency to find light. After groping in confusion for a couple of minutes, I finally found the stairs which led up to the bathroom. The lights had come back on upstairs, and I could see my way out of the darkness. What a relief!

That moment sticks out in my memory, because it represents my life before I found Jesus. I groped in darkness until I heard one day that Jesus bore my sins upon the cross. I trusted Him at that moment to save me from my sins, and yet like Lazarus, I was still bound by grave-clothes.

Jesus, after commanding Lazarus to come forth, asked others to take his grave-clothes. In my life, it took years  to start to understand just the tip of the iceberg of the greatness of that gift Christ gave me in my salvation. Through receiving the love of Christ demonstrated in His body , I came to realize that only God, His Word, and His loving Body could help me unwrap myself from the tethers of religion and the devil's accusations.

It is the best gift in the entire world, yet it takes our entire lifetime to open it and find out what it really means. It comes to us more and more as we find a place to grow in grace and knowledge of Him, but also as we read the Word itself as a habit.

Somehow, the more I read, the more treasures pop out at me just the like Jesus being the light of the world. If someone is struggling with sadness, a burden which seems too heavy to be lifted, take heart from this one promise from Jesus.

If you have Jesus, you have light, and you will not be left to grope in the darkness.

"All things through His intermediate agency came into being, and without Him there came into being not even one thing which has come into existence. In Him life was existing. And this aforementioned life was the light of men. And the light in the darkness is constantly shining. And the darkness did not
overwhelm it."  John 1: 3-5 Wuest translation, emphasis mine.

Even if your darkness appears to overwhelm the path you are on, remember that light and darkness cannot co-exist. Trust Him to light your path, and He will today and forever.

Monday, January 11, 2016

What are the Chances? thanks to the Father who
has qualified us to be partakers
of the inheritance of the saints
in the light. He has delivered
us from the power of darkness
and conveyed us into the kingdom
of the Son of His love,in whom we
have redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:12-13

Have you ever really considered the "all knowledge" of God? What are the chances that the King of the Universe would bow so low in order to have a relationship with someone like us that lives on this dirt ball spinning in the galaxy of space? How about the fact that He knows everything about us, and yet still loves us? I find myself thinking about God's attribute of omniscience in different, maybe strange kinds of ways, ways that might seem odd to someone who never thought of God's all knowing power. For example,  how about the fact that God knows how many grains of sugar would be in every sugar bowl sitting on every table throughout this entire world? God is also fully aware how many grains of salt are in all floating right now in all of the oceans over the world. He knows how many hairs are on each and every person's head, and  He even knows the exact moment each and every one of those hairs fall off our heads, where they will fall to, and what will become of them.

"And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Colossians 1:17

He holds this whole universe together: every atom, every molecule, every light wave. He knows how many times each one of our hearts have beat in their chests, and how many are left for each one of us. Why should I worry when I have such a God as that? Although I admit, I fail at times with worrying, even after knowing these things. He is so patient with me, each day He gives me a new chance to prove that I trust Him and a fresh clean slate unmarked by yesterday's failures.

I was struggling about trusting Him for my husband's being laid off, and this morning was no different. I started to read the Word as I always do, and found inspiration to write a poem. Basically it said I would trust Him, no matter how hard my feelings were rebelling inside. After I wrote it, my husband's phone started ringing, and he got the good news we have waited for for so long. He was getting called back to work. God's timing is always perfect.

Another thing we  have concluded: there are no accidents. Everything happens for a reason, and if only we trust God, we can have the grace and stamina to hang on in the most trying circumstances.

My God knows every burst of wind and when it will blow. He hears all the prayers of all the people praying to Him around the world yet can still personally attend to each one. He knew in advance all the sins we would ever commit, yet still went to the cross to die and pay the penalty for each and every one. What an amazing God!

I wanted to share something about God's omniscience I found in the book The Integrity of God, written by R,B, Thieme Jr, about what he calls the "Doctrine of the Divine Decrees." On page 297, introducing the subject, Thieme wrote:

"The decree of God is His eternal, holy, wise, and sovereign purpose, comprehending simultaneously
all things that ever were of will be in their causes, courses, conditions, successions, and relations determining their certain futurition."

God never learns anything, because He already knows everything! When I think back to when I was afraid to trust Him with my life, I'm ashamed of  my hardened unbelieving heart. To think that the created one did not trust the One who formed her, that somehow I knew better than He did in what was best for me? And yet this same One was so very patient with me, and let me discover through my own stupid decisions that to follow His ways really are for my best, even if the rest of the world thinks it to be foolish.

I read about God's omniscience in AW Tozer's wonderful book, The Pursuit of God.  I highlighted on my Kindle Tozer's amazing words:

 "He knew us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us...Our Father in heaven knows our frame and remembers that we are but dust. He knew our inborn treachery, and for His own sake engaged to save us. (Is. 48:8-11) His only begotten Son, when He walked among us, felt our pains in their naked intensity of
anguish. His knowledge of our afflictions and adversities is more than theoretic, it is personal, warm and compassionate. Whatever may befall us, God knows us and cares as no one else can."
(Location 2762 and 2763)

And so, as we start off the New Year of 2016 and whatever it may hold, maybe my readers might want to consider: "What are the chances that the God of the universe would want to have a relationship with me? What kind of God must He be?"

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