Wednesday, May 25, 2016

First Times, Last Times and Graduation Days

I held a tiny pumpkin the day I found out I would be a grandma once again.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I've been thinking about the fact that there is a first time and a last time for everything in our lives, and how different our lives might be if we remembered that reality. For instance, yesterday I was asked at the restaurant if I qualified for a senior discount. I had only recently colored my gray and my friend even said she loved the new way I was wearing my hair. But there is no escaping the fact that each day I grow one day older, one day closer to eternity.

The other morning I was sipping my coffee and reading the Bible as my husband prepared to walk out the door for work. I was comfy where I was, but a little voice inside me told me to get up and kiss him goodbye, so I did. My neighbor told me he always kisses his wife because his relative forgot to kiss his wife one day. He was a firefighter and that day got called off to a fire. It ended up that the relative never got a chance to kiss his wife again, for he died while helping to extinguish the fire.

I have someone dear to my heart who will not speak to me. There was a day when I had my last interaction with this person. I did not know it would be my last.

I sent my father in law a homemade Veteran's Day card back in 2010. He was a widower and I felt bad for not being in closer contact with him. But I told him in that card how much we appreciated his service in Korea, and that we loved him. That card ended up being my last communication with him, for he fell off an exercise machine a few weeks later, and died immediately. There was no other chance for me to say goodbye.

Nobody knows the day they are going to die. You wake up one morning and feel great. You get in your car and go off to work, except that this is the last day that God has marked out for you. It could be any one of us, any time. Yet there is a time and season for all things, even the day we exit this planet.

 During the season of graduations, I think back to the day I graduated from high school so long ago. I have a picture with me in my gown standing between my two sisters on our front lawn. For some reason I decided to cut the picture into an oval shape and tape it onto a pink bookmark. Every day I see it as it is one of my book-markers in my Bible. We all looked so young, we had no idea of the heartaches that were yet to come in each one of our lives.

 I thought I knew so much, that I was ready to take on the world. I didn't realize that before I completed my second trimester at my college in West Virginia, I would be so homesick and scared that I would come back to Pittsburgh and enroll at the University so I could be near my sister. I always looked up to her, somehow I would feel safer if she were closer by. And so I did, thereby altering the entire course of my life.  I didn't know who I was yet, but somehow I was on the path God was preparing for me. There was  a day I shut my  high school locker for the last time, and there was a day I no longer attended college in West Virginia, but Pitt instead.

By the time I reached my college graduation,, I was already married. Six months after we married, quite close to my graduation from Pitt Nursing School, I became pregnant. I felt I let my parents down by not waiting longer to have a child, but there I was, morning sickness and all on graduation day. All the training and all the clinicals and the tests I sweated to get through, yet soon  I left all that behind to be a full time Mommy.

I hadn't planned all that out, but God knew every season in my life before I existed, just like He knows yours. Today, I would not change one bit of it. God used all these different seasons in my life to get me where I am today. I was a troubled young woman on those graduation days, but His Word in my heart can make me honestly say I am a happy woman today, in spite of the losses in my life.

There is one last Graduation Day left to come. This one will be like no other. At this one, I will stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I won't have to explain to him my sins, for He already died to put them away from my account forever. But I will have to answer for what I did with my life once I became a Christian.

It's a sobering thought. I've been given so much.
 "...From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."                                  Luke 12 :48
We may think we can skate through life, but there really is a Graduation Day for the believer in Christ.

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that is already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."                              I Corinthians 3:11-15 
And so, I'm trying to be in each moment as it comes, enjoying the trip of life one moment at a time. Although I don't know the future, my Savior does. Because He lives, I have hope for each day left here on earth, and for all eternity.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Where Your Treasure Lies...

The LORD is exalted,
for He dwells on high;
 He has filled Zion
with justice and
 righteousness. Wisdom
and knowledge will
 be the stability of
your times, And the
strength of salvation;
 The fear of the
LORD is his treasure.

Isaiah 33: 5-6

Where our treasure lies, that is where our heart will be, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21. That resonated with me this morning, even as the hymn on the radio reminds me that He alone is a shelter in the time of the storm.

God blesses me so much when I take the time to read His Word and commune with Him in prayer. It is my own little shelter from the storms of life. I used to think these were a "have-to," but now I realize they are such a wonderful "get-to."

I get to know the mind of Christ as I delve into His Word. Right now I have so many study tools available to me, it would be to my shame to neglect them. As I dig down sometimes into the meanings of the words, I am blessed to learn more and more about my wonderful Creator.

If I have wandered from Him through some sin, why do I ever think I could hide it from Him? He knows all things, He knows my failures. He is not mad that I failed, but wants to show me that I can only please Him by total reliance on Him, and not my own meager resources. I have nothing to offer Him but coming to Him and offering myself to Him each day as a living sacrifice. The enemy would want me to fear this as a difficult and scary thing, but the more I get to know Him, I only realize more and more how reasonable it is. Instead of running from Him like Adam and Eve I can run to Him anytime, anywhere, 24/7. He is always waiting there for me.

Here are some of my beloved study tools that have helped me to grow in the grace and the knowledge of my Lord and Savior. They have helped me to see God's Word is an unfathomable treasure trove. Maybe you might be blessed by some of them too.

  • The Hebrew-Greek-Key-Word-Study- edited by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates     This Bible has a lexicon and word study aids and is most wonderful, explaining the deeper meaning of both Hebrew and Greek words. (Also available in other Bible versions.)   AMG Publishers
  • The Complete-WordStudy-Dictionary-New Testament- edited by Spiros Zodhiates   I bought a copy in the hardback edition with some money I received from my birthday. It is a huge book and explains the meaning of the words in context. Not every word is used in the same way, and Zodhiates helps you to get the closest meaning for each particular usage.  AMG Publishers
  • Interlinear-Greek-English-New-Testament- Jay P. Green, Sr.    I picked up this treasure at a rummage sale. It gives me the number from Strong's for each word. It also gives the literal translation. I use this in conjunction with the dictionary listed above. Wonderful.  Baker Books.
  • Nelsons-Cross-Reference-Guide-to the Bible    This lovely hardback gives an abundance of cross references for the entire Bible. You can get lost in studying a word or concept here.
  • New-Testament-Expanded-Translation by Kenneth Wuest    This expands the translation of the New Testament. Eerdman's Publishing Co.
  • Dake-Annotated-Reference-Bible-KJV-Publishing/   (Also available in other Bible versions.) This study Bible is packed with cross references and thousands and thousands of study notes. I don't agree with him on everything, but his work is amazing in this study Bible. I got mine on a closeout one time from CBD at a very reasonable price. But the print in my version is quite small, it is not the large print, although a large print is available. Dake Bible Sales, Inc.
These are just a few of my favorites, but I thought in sharing them it might help someone else out in their walk with the Lord. Maybe you might be able to purchase one secondhand. In knowing Jesus, the Word personified, we can have stability in such uncertain times. Though the mountains quake and are cast into the depths of the sea, we do not have to fear.  (Psalm 46:2) We can be like the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily, to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

Do you have any favorite study materials you would like to share? I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Encroaching Darkness

"So Moses stretched
His hand toward
and there was
darkness in the
 land of Egypt
three days.
They did not see
one another; nor
 did anyone
rise from his place
 for three days. 
But all the children
 of Israel had light in their dwellings."

Exodus 10: 22-23

Can you sense the encroaching darkness? Can you tell that there is something terribly wrong with this world, things are not just going along like they always have?

If not, I hope you will believe me when I tell you things are not going to get better on this planet. Not until there is a drastic change, anyway. (As in the Lord coming back.) That change will not come about by any scheme of man. No amount of planning, persuading or patrolling people into what they call a "new world order" will make things any better.

Have you noticed the more we try to improve our race, the further downhill things go? Things we never dreamed of ten years ago are happening now. If you feel like you are perfectly at home on this planet, I ask you whether you are really being honest with yourself? Do you really think a new president of the United States can get us out of the mess we are in?

No other society has ever survived when it began to rot inwardly from corruption. Why do we think it will be different in our case?

I feel a heavy burden on me for the way things are. The way our children are being corrupted when they have barely even reached grade school. The way the traditional family has been torn apart, also. The way that nobody dares call "sin" sin anymore. I am no better than anyone else, but I sense real chaos in the making.

I have a million different choices today on how to spend my time. I can watch one a gazillion channels if I wish, or line up a huge playlist on Youtube. I can download, workout, zone out, or vent, but today I feel like I must cry out.

I must cry out to my Maker. Lord, we have fallen so far away from Your righteous standards. Many may scoff at that but I believe this land is mourning.

For the land is full of adulterers; For because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, And their might is not right." Jeremiah 23:10
They have made it desolate; Desolate, it mourns to Me; The whole land is made desolate, Because no one takes it to heart. Jeremiah 12:11
They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no bud; It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, Aliens would swallow it up." Hosea 8:7
We might ask, "What can one person do?" For me, it involves taking a long hard look at myself. Maybe I am part of the reason we are in such a mess today. But as long as there is still time, I can own up to my failures and have a fresh clean slate each day.

I could never deserve this fresh slate but it is given to  me courtesy of the Lord Jesus. He took on all the decrepit things I have said and done and paid for them completely.

O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! Jeremiah 22: 29
I don't have to stay in the darkness. Every moment that I breathe is an opportunity to turn around and come back to His light.

"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18
Lord, let our answer be "yes" to Your question: ...Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"

(As I hit publish I realized this was my 200th posting on this blog site. To God be the glory!)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Well, blame it on God then!

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.    I Cor. 11: 3

This morning I casually discussed what to do with our leftover chicken with my dearly beloved. I had a great plan, to add it to teriyaki vegetables and add quinoa to boost the protein for tonight's dinner. I invited him to partake of it with me.

 "Don't do that," my husband said. "We'll  just end up with leftovers that we will have to get rid of."

 I wanted to argue with him, and laughingly joked, "Well, its a good thing you are in charge   around here."

He brought me up short. "Well, argue with God then. He's the One who made it that way."

 I had to agree with him, that is if I claim to believe the Bible. The point was not whether I could make chicken teriyaki, but allowing the simple truth from God's Word  to bring peace to my situation.

It sounds pretty silly, I admit it. But this one little verse has been a real key to marital harmony in my home. It wasn't always that way, and I used to hate verses like this one. Now, I see they are really for my deliverance in time. God has spelled it out so clearly in the Word.

It is not that we are inferior to our husbands, not at all. But God has built into the man the authority to be the head of the home. God has worked in my husband without me reminding him that for him to be the head is an awesome responsibility before God. He is to lead and shepherd his family like Jesus is our Good shepherd.

 In a tiny example, the other day, hubby started getting rid of clothes he would never wear again. I wanted him to do that a long time ago but let myself not get upset about it when he didn't jump when I snapped my fingers.

I told him today how much that had inspired me also to get rid of stuff. He told me, "You know, I realize that I have to do my part in this de-cluttering thing and set a good example."

I didn't ask him to do that. God showed it to him as the head of our home.

Instead of worrying about my husband screwing things up, I can commit  issues I would tend to get anxious over to the Lord, asking Him to direct my husband's heart in wisdom. For it was God who has set my husband in authority, and made him the head of the house. I can then rely on Proverbs 21:1:

The kings heart is in the hand of the LORD. Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
 I commit my prayer to God asking Him to direct my husband like the rivers of water. I then can have peace and not try to force my own wishes. The result is I have great peace in my marriage.

I admit I am glad my husband pulled me up short over my thoughtless complaint today. Do I really want to blame God for the Divine order of things?

...woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. I Cor. 7b, 8-9  
 A godly mentor (Mrs. Judy Seligman) shared these Scriptures with me many years ago. It has been a real marriage saver. If a Christian woman reads this and doesn't like it (just like I didn't used to like it) well, I  say take it up with the Lord then. Look up the Scriptures and see if God doesn't have a better way than our schemes to get our  way in  marriage. If you trust God with this , you will find a better way. God promises it to the one who takes Him at His Word.

 I don't know why I wrote this today outside of the fact that if it helps even one marriage, it will have been worth it. Thanks for reading.