Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blahh Humbug or Beautiful Happiness?

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness; and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die, and said; it is enough, now, O LORD take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.  I Kings 19:4

 Elijah felt sorry for himself. After great bravery and demonstrating God's magnificent power before the people who were drawn into worshipping the false god Baal, then slaying all the false prophets, he became frightened when his life was threatened by the evil Queen Jezebel. He ran for his life and asked God to take him away.

We might think to ourselves after reading this. "Oh Elijah, how could you?"

We could never think such a thing, could we? 

The day after Christmas, I felt so blahh humbuggish. (My new term for the after Christmas blues.) It was dreary and gloomy and now that the holiday was over there was the usual letdown. Plus the fact that Christmas is forever different now with Dad's homegoing To make things worse, when my husband came home that night we got into a little argument over the stupidest thing and he went off to bed and we hadn't really resolved it. So I stewed and went to bed early myself.

The next day, it continued to be gloomy and miserable and my attitude had not changed either. I felt terrible, but started to listen a message on Psalm 139.
Oh LORD thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou dost understand my thought from afar off   (verse 1,2)
Didn't God know that I would fail in arguing with my husband on December 26th? Didn't He understand the world and all its bad news, and the gloom of the day outside? 

For there is not a word on my tongue, but lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before and laid thine hand upon me. (verses 4,5)
My despair started to lighten when I thought about how much He loves me, right here and now, not before I am sinlessly perfect but in my weakness and failure. That's what He came here for. For people who fail constantly. He came to be the perfect Person and stand in our place when God had to punish our sin.

I also thought of the greatness of His power as He knit me together in my mother's womb and created all the trillions of cells that would make my human body. (verse 13) What kind of God could plan such a wonderful machine as our human bodies?

I cannot escape from His love, no matter how I feel. Even as I age, I do not have to fear for He will still be my God then, even as He is right now.
Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs will I carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4 

In the message, I was reminded that He was the One who created me, who understands me better than I understand myself. And I have this gift called eternal life. Even if I feel blahh humbug, right here, right now I have eternal life through my relationship with Jesus Christ.

What more could anyone want? We watch and read stories of rich and famous people. People who have everything their heart could desire.But just like Charlie Brown said, they aren't happy.  It is not enough. It will never be enough. 

Deep down, that One who made us and knows how each one of us ticks, is the only One who will (or even can) fill our craving souls. Most men are searching for happiness and it is right there, if only they would reach for it.

"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
"so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:26-27

Suddenly I had this joy in my heart, a feeling of beautiful happiness. Even if the day is gray and gloomy, I have Christ, and the hope of a bright future which no man can take away from me. 

Anyone reading this post who does not yet know Jesus can have this same gift simply by receiving by faith the free gift of salvation that He stands waiting to share with you. You can start the new year of 2017 with a brand new faith and a hope that will last forever.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Last Christmas with Dad

The winter sky last year at Dad's.

I looked through my pictures from last Christmas and was reminded that my husband and I spent the day with my parents at their home, bringing them a meal and presents. I didn't know it would be my last Christmas with my beloved father. The picture tells me otherwise. Just a quiet Christmas with the four of us there.

Mom and Dad were going to  Arizona that winter, but in early December 2015, Mom fractured her tailbone and was in extreme pain. That trip, meticulously planned out by my father, was cancelled when we heard the news. Bedrest, pain meds, and physical therapy took the place of travelling in the sunny southwest.

This winter, Dad again had carefully planned for wintering in Florida. The weekend after Thanksgiving Dad would take an Amtrak train with their car and Mom and I were to fly down the following Tuesday. That highly anticipated trip, also, was not meant to be when Dad fell while deer hunting just a few weeks before.

Instead, Dad has blazed the family trail, being the first one in our family to be at home with Jesus this Christmas. We never would have dreamed it, but it happened.

Life happens while we make our plans and dreams. God knew that my parents would not make it to Florida. Looking at last year's Christmas pictures, I have no regrets. Instead, I have happy memories of spending that last Christmas of his with him, loving him and Mom.

II Cor. 5: 1-4 says, "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life."

I want to be thoughtful, not necessarily sentimental, in thinking about Dad's absence this Christmas.  Dad is no longer groaning, but rejoicing in his new heavenly home. Dad has put on his uniform of light, never to be shrouded by darkness again. In this I can rejoice this Christmas.

I thank God for memories of happy times. I rejoice that I felt closer to Dad in these last years than ever before in my life, that I was able to be an important part of his life.

Life happens while we make our plans. If you love someone, show them now, for you never know what day, or what Christmas even, might be their last.

Thank you God, for wonderful memories of Christmas' past. Thank you for the parents you gave me, who loved me the best they could, and that one day soon, I will see them again and never have to say goodbye again.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Pour Out Your Heart

Arise, cry out in the night at the beginning of the nightwatches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children who faint for hunger at the head of every street.

Lamentations 2:19

 My children aren't fainting from physical hunger and I thank God for it. Yet last night, I brought them before God in the wee hours of the night.

Apart from physical hunger, there's another kind of famine in our land. A famine that's destroying the generation we live in. Amos the Old Testament prophet talked about it in Amos 8:11:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the LORD.
Sleep eluded me, and I couldn't help but think about them, for the younger generation as a whole. God laid on my heart the necessity of praying for my children, and my children's children, that they might hunger and thirst for the living words of God. What blessing could be more important than to desire God's highest and best ?  The blessings come from having His Word dwelling richly within our hearts. 

 Sometimes we say, as if in despair, that the "only thing we can do is pray." How can we say that when prayer is our secret weapon, our greatest weapon, the only offensive weapon in the spiritual armor? If it does not represent much on our part, then why did the Lord allow the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:6?  The story of bothering an unjust judge who finally relents reminds us to never give up in prayer, no matter how hopeless it seems.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,

 I will pray and expect to see answers coming. How futile it is to stew and worry when it accomplishes nothing. The enemy doesn't want us to pray, he wants us to throw up our hands in despair. Meanwhile, the world grows darker and more defiled, like in the days of Noah.

It is an exciting time to be alive. It is a dangerous time to be alive.  The enemy is on the prowl for anyone he can catch off guard. All we need do is give a little inch, and the enemy comes in like a flood, taking a mile. Anxiety does nothing to quell it, but persistent, believing prayer can. Our families are worth fighting for!

When I pray lately,  I might say to God, "Here I am again, Lord. Just like that persistent widow who did not stop bothering the unjust judge until he gave her justice from her enemy. But You are not unjust, You are righteous and want me to come to You. I am putting _______ before you. I am waiting to see You get  glory from this situation. I know it will be a great testimony when the answer does finally come. Cover my children and grandchildren with the precious blood of Christ and grant them repentance in any area where they may need it. Amen."

The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.(James 5:16) 

 Many are enduring extreme difficulties. We must not faint nor lose heart. Jesus is coming back  soon, and the night is always darkest before the dawn. I can almost see His rays of sunshine breaking in on this dark old world.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Mercies Each Morning

This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. It is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.

Lam. 3: 21-24

These are more than just nice sounding words on a page . These are absolute truths. Every day can be a new beginning, no matter how bad we blew it the day before.

Pride is so sneaky. Sometimes I think I'm doing well. It's easy to think of others and how they might be failing in one way or another. But the Spirit pulls me up short and I realize in this thick skull of mine that I am no better than any of them. We all need God's mercies.

If I do well, it is because He helps me to avail myself of His neverending supply of mercy and grace. If I fail, He is not surprised, He  wants me to come back to Him. Could we really think that God is surprised by any of our failures when He knew every day that was appointed to us? (See Psalm 139.)

Christian, do you, or could you, really believe these gracious words?

Come to Me, all who are growing weary to the point of exhaustion, and have been loaded with burdens and are beneath their weight, and I alone will cause you to cease from your labor and take away your burdens and thus refresh you with rest. Take at once my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find cessation from labor and refreshment for your souls, for my yoke is mild and pleasant, and my load is light in weight.*
* The New Testament, An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest, Teacher Emeritus of NT Greek, The Moody Bible Institute, 1956.

A. T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures of the New Testament, Volume 1, Kregel Publications, 2004 Revised and Updated by Wesley J. Perschbacher, says this of Christ's yoke:
Jesus promisess that we shall find his yoke greatly lightens the burden, "Easy" is a poor translation of chrestos ( χρηστός  ); Moffatt puts it "kindly."... We have no adjective that quite carries the notion of "kind and good." The yoke of Christ is useful, good and kindly (cf. Song 1:10). 
So, if you think living the Christian life is hard, think again. It was hard for Him, so it could be easy for us to receive a new start and His mercies each day. 

 Christianity isn't a list of rules but a relationship with the Living God. And He is the One who accomplishes it in us as we simply let His Word dwell richly in our hearts.

Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it. I Thessalonians 5:24

For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil. 2:13
Finally, remember Jesus' gentle rebuke to Martha when she was so busy trying to serve Him. He simply said:

...Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10: 41-42 
Jesus did everything necessary to make me good before God. He is a good and kind Master. When I fail Him, I come again to His throne of grace and receive abundant mercy.

Who His own self bare our own sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.                 (*my emphasis) I Peter 2: 24