Friday, March 25, 2016

The Dayspring from on High

                                       Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby
                                      the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give
                                      light to them that sit in darkness  and in the shadow
                                      of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
                                                                   Luke 1: 78-9

The other day, as I began reading the gospel of Luke again, I came across the words of Zacharias after his tongue was loosened again after the birth of his son, John the Baptist. He prophesied of
Jesus, calling Him the Dayspring from on high.What a beautiful name for Jesus, a combination of
two lovely words together which inspire our hearts to look ahead to the blessings and promises He '
gave us through His sacrificial death on Calvary's cross around 2,000 years ago. Think of it, two simple words joined together, day and spring. What lovely, choice combination words for the lover of men's souls.

Jesus represents "day" and all that entails. No one I know willingly prefers the darkness of night
over daytime. Just today it was gloomy and cold after several warm days and the house seemed so dark.  A couple of days like that, and I am feeling frumpy. I need light! Not only is Jesus the Light of the World, but the very fact that He is shows that goodness comes to us via light, not darkness. Have you ever been in pitch black darkness? Richard Wurmbrand was once left in solitary confinement underneath a dark prison in Romania for a number of years. Could you imagine how bright the light was after coming from the depths of the earth? The Bible says God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all, "No, not in any way," explains the Amplified Version in I John 1:5. Here are some other verses that refer to Jesus representing Day:

II Peter 2:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.

I Thessalonians 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of the darkness.

John 9:14 I must work the works of Him while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Song of Solomon 4:6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

Then the second word is spring. I think of spring in two ways here. One is that Jesus is an everlasting fountain of water, a flowing stream which will never run dry. Verses that refer to the Lord being a life giving spring include:

Deuteronomy 8:7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land full of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills.

II Kings 2:21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.

Psalm 85:11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

Isaiah 43:19  Behold, I will do a new thing: now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 45:8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth pour open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 61:11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

And  here are two verses  from Jesus about Him being the source of life giving water.

John 4 :10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

John 7:37-8 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come to me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

The other thought is that Jesus is like the springtime, when the miracle of the plants and trees come alive again, just as Jesus did when God raised Him from the dead on the third day after lying dead for our sins and trespasses in the cold hard ground of earth.

This is what Easter is about. It is not about bunnies and eggs. It is every day, really, a finished work celebration. Jesus rose from the dead, and I can celebrate that 366 days this year. How about you?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Goodness and Mercy are Sure to Follow...

Jehovah is my shepherd, I do not lack,
In pastures of tender grass He causeth me to lie down, By quiet waters He doth lead me.
My soul He refresheth, He leadeth me in paths of righteousness, For His name's sake,
Also -- when I walk in a valley of death-shade, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff -- they comfort me.
Thou arrangest before me a table, Over-against my adversaries, Thou hast anointed with oil my head, My cup is full!
Only -- goodness and kindness pursue me, All the days of my life, And my dwelling is in the house of Jehovah, For a length of days!

Psalm 23~Young's Literal Translation

Another birthday approaches, another year of life, and today found me renewing my photo ID for my driver's license. I could not help but notice how much older I looked than the last picture. I am well into middle aged years. My life has been a journey for all these years, but one thing I know for sure, Jehovah is my Good Shepherd, and He is the One who keeps on leading my path.

He causes me to lie down and rest. I never would have found rest if it were not for learning His words, which grow dearer with each passing day. In a world where everything can change in a moment, one thing stays the same: God and His Words, which will never pass away. Everything else around me will pass away, but Jesus promised His Words would remain forever.

There have been dark times in my life. But He has always been there. It may have seemed that I was trudging along alone, but He silently walked along, keeping my feet from falling. The enemy of my soul likes to taunt with accusations constantly. But I keep eating from a table filled with goodness (for my needs) and mercy (for my sins), and the enemy has nothing he can say that can withstand it. The devil cannot deny the cross or that Christ rose again from the tomb so that I could be God's daughter. God's rod and staff kept me from falling off the cliff altogether, and even if I were that one sheep of the hundred who strayed from the flock, He would reach down with His shepherd's crook to get me.

I heard this week in a Bible teaching that we do not have to go running after happiness. If we follow the Lord, it only stands that happiness will find us. As we go about our days seeking first the Kingdom of God, David says that goodness and kindness pursue us.I just know that even though  the world demands that I grab "all the gusto," in Christ I am content with what He has given me, just where I am, just for today.

When I walk through my life's final valley, I need not be afraid of that either. Whether I die this year or go in the Rapture or have many years yet to live, I trust He will be there to walk it with me. C.H. Spurgeon, in The Treasury of David, says this of the death shadowed valley in Psalm 23:

"The dying saint is not in a flurry, he does not run as though he were alarmed, nor stand still as though he would go no further...Observe that it is not walking in  the valley, but through the valley...Death is not the house but the porch, not the goal but the passage to it...The storm breaks on the mountain, but the valley is a place of quietude, and thus full often the the last days of the Christian are the most peaceful in his whole career...And, then, it is not, "the valley of death," but the valley of the shadow of death," for death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains...let us then rejoice that there is a light beyond. Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man's pathway even for a moment. The shadow of a dog cannot bite, the shadow of a sword cannot kill...Let us not, therefore, be afraid."        Treasury of David Volume One by Charles H. Spurgeon, page 355.

So yes, I am getting older. But would I turn back to my youth if I had a chance? No! It has taken me some fifty odd years to come to this place of peace and reliance on God, and I am glad that each day given takes me one day closer to seeing Him face to face.

Thank You Lord, for Your goodness and mercy, all the days of my life.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

And Suddenly...Spring

"My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for
the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay
her young-- Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
My King and My God.
Blessed are they who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. SELAH...
As they pass through the valley of Baca,
They make it a spring; The rain also covers
it with pools. They go from strength to strength...   Psalm 84: 2-4, 6, 7a

As I go from His strength to strength from one day to the next, suddenly I notice that once again we have made it through another winter. I will hang out laundry today in celebration. As I sat reading the Word this morning, I noticed a couple of little birds up in the rafters on the front porch. They are getting ready to have their family once again. No one told the birds that the world seems to be falling apart at the seams. They are doing what God appointed them to do. No one told them it was time to do it, they just knew it, because God gave them that wisdom.

One day last year my husband and I were walking up at the junior high and a couple of branches fell down from a beautiful white birch tree on the lawn. I arranged them together to make this cross. It was at a time when we were yet struggling through a long standing trial. Yet as I formed the cross, I reminded myself that as long as there are seasons, there is hope. For God promised us the seasons until the end of time.

God promised Noah after the great flood of the continuity of the seasons in Genesis 8:22 after Noah offered a sacrifice after the flood.

"While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease."

Though in my minuscule mind I cannot fathom how the world has managed not to destroy herself, I know that God is allowing the earth yet again to wake up from another winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. And as long as the earth remains, He will give me the strength for yet another day. Just like the Israelites had to gather manna every single day, I gather my "manna" for the day as I start it with coffee and the Word.

Sometimes the words just float on past my brain and I realize I have been thinking of something else altogether. I then go back and look at the passage again. Sometimes I realize that reading the Word, or hearing it taught, for that matter, is like having a spaghetti battle. You get what sticks to you. (I was given that expression many years ago when I wasn't sure how much of the Word I was retaining. I think it's a good analogy.)

So it is that we also have seasons in our life, too. I remember the earliest seasons, and all the anxiety I had as I grew into a young woman and tried to find my place in the world. Then the season of motherhood, with the feeling of being overwhelmed in trying to find a way to be a decent mother to three kids who needed me. I did not realize it at the time, but it turns out it seems that was a short season that I had young ones under my feet. How quickly they all sprouted from the nest. And now, I am in a blessed season as grandchildren are the light of my life. I can look at them a bit differently than I did my own children, because I know now how quickly they will grow up. But it is also a season of helping to care for my elderly parents, and not knowing what the future will hold in terms of them needing me.

It is easy for me to take on the role of "parent" in some ways as I see life becoming overwhelming for my mother. But I remember I will be the next one in her shoes. At life's end, it can be a struggle to face the winter season of one's life. I just hope that my memory will hold as much of the Word as it can to get my own self through my winter season, if the Lord should tarry that long.

But, in all these thoughts about seasons, it is comforting to know that the Lord only wants us to trust Him for each single day He gives us. I don't quite think He is into ten year plans and five year plans, though I could be wrong on that. I just know He says:

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6:34, NLT)

And so, as the eternal, endless Day approaches, I anticipate a future with no more night, no more curse, no more death, no more pain. And it is all because of the great gift of Jesus taking all my sins to His body that spring day so many years ago.

If you are not sure you have eternal life, believe the testimony God gives us of His Son:

"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NLT)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fighting against God is a losing battle

"Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high
has visited us;
To give light to those
who sit in darkness
and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace."

Luke 1: 78-79

The things that seem impossible with men are possible with God. Just like a crocus popping out of barren ground in February, so God's ways take us by surprise. He even surprised the Pharisees.

I laughed a bit when I read in Matthew 27 today. After the body of Jesus was crucified and secured in the tomb with the huge stone to cover it, the Pharisees were still not satisfied. It was like they knew He would resurrect, and yet they refused to see. In vain tried to stop it somehow.

All these things happened when Christ was crucified: the veil of the temple was ripped in two, darkness over the land from the sixth to the ninth hour, graves were opened and bodies of buried saints were raised. Wouldn't that be enough to indicate Jesus was no ordinary man? Yet the Pharisees could not see, would not see, and plotted in vain to stop Christ from rising from His tomb.

Can't you just hear them still fussing and fuming before Pilate? "Sir, we remember, while How He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first."

Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard." Matthew 27: 62-66

Maybe even Pilate laughed when he thought of their useless effort and worry. It reminds me of Psalm 2, how men will try in the last days to come against the Most High and God Himself will laugh.

"Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
'Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away their cords from us.'

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
The He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion..."

Psalm 2: 1-6

The great men of the earth actually think they can fight against God and win?

I think of myself too. God has laid out for us the way to happiness, the way to peace, and somehow I think I can find it some other way? God is no respecter of persons and God is not mocked either. We will reap what we sow, no matter who we are, no matter what we've done.

Right now, it might appear that evil is winning. It might appear that God is far off, and that we have been left to our own devices down here on planet earth. But at just the right time, Christ will return and make war with the evil one and all those who choose to side with him.

It may not seem like it could happen, but neither did it seem that the stone of the tomb would be rolled away, either.

All the prophecies in the Old Testament that told of Jesus' first coming came true, so why would we think the prophecies of His second coming will not come true either? The day is coming quickly.
It is surely going to happen, just like the Bible said it would: "And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon." Revelation 16: 16.

A few chapters later, the great battle is described again: "And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone." Revelation 19: 19-20 (emphasis mine)

We choose which side we will be on. Either choose with the Victor or with the one who thinks he can fight against God and win. To not choose is really siding with the loser. The day and the hour grow late, but the gift of salvation is still a free gift, and today is still the day of salvation to all who will call upon the name of Jesus.

"Look unto Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other." Isaiah 45:22

You can't find against God and win.