Once Again

The angels could only remember twice when Heaven was in an uproar.  The first time happened when one of their own was cast out along with those that thought his ideas were great.  Now, again it seemed that something was going on.  The Father and the Son and been talking and there was an atmosphere of expectation.

For a long time man, the Father’s ultimate creation had been separated from fellowship with the Father.  Something needed to be done.  Everyone knew Father God could not look on sin and since that first disobedience by Adam the road to repentance was arduous.  God gave Moses all the laws and rules but even then man did not obey.

All the angels knew the Father longed for a relationship with His created children.  Maybe this was the reason for this time of expectation.

Finally, there was a way to bring reconciliation.  As the angels listened they were astonished at what the Father planned to do.

He was going to send His son to be born of woman.  Jesus was going to lay down all of His glory, step aside Heaven’s splendor and go to earth.  They listened as Jesus said He would be willing to go and then give His life so that mankind could come into right relationship with the Father.

This plan was the talk among the cherubs and angels and they were to have a part in this plan.

Where would He be born and how would this come about?  Lots of questions and they were all answered on the one night so long ago.

The Father chose Mary a young virgin to carry this Holy Child.  “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated “God with us.”(Matthew 1:23)

This would be a great event the angels thought, born in a palace, after all He was royalty.  They couldn’t understand – a stable.  That is no place for the Son of God.  No grand announcement to the earthly kings and rulers.

The angels were at last given their part of the plan.  They would announce His birth.  There in the darkened skies over Bethlehem they gathered.  Their announcement was to shepherds. The sky became full of light and “behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:10-11)NKJ  “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace goodwill to men!”  (Luke 2:13-14)NKJ

God sent His son to earth to be born in a humble stable.  He came to die so that mankind could be reconciled to God the Father.  This is the story of Christmas.  A baby that would live become a man, die and rise again and by doing this He forever changed the course of history.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Passing By The Mirror

When did this happen?  It can’t be possible but it is.  The reflection looking back at me is older and looked tired.  How did that happen?  Silly question, you know how that happens and yet, somehow none of us want to believe we are getting older.  We want to believe that we will beat the odds, and in somehow we will find the fountain of youth, the elixir to make us forever young.

There is much to say about youth.  It is a time you approach everything with vigor and an optimistic outlook and you believe nothing is really impossible if you try.  Fondly I remember those days.  All I needed to succeed was for someone to tell me I couldn’t do something and it was a guarantee that I could.  I would prove them wrong.  In most circumstances I did just that and in other times – well with age I have forgotten or refuse to remember. Some of the years have been kind and others, I am glad they are on the completed side of the balance sheet.

My mind still believes I am young and can do anything I did at twenty.  Who am I trying to kid, I will be lucky if I can accomplish what I did when I was forty.  The hair is not gray thanks to the hairdresser and what ever magic mix she uses.  The wrinkles are there but the makeup helps to disguise them, at least for a few hours.  I look back in the mirror, and I try and remember the girl that stood before the mirror with so many hopes, dreams, and ambitions.  Walking down memory lane reveals some dreams realized, plans completed but as I round the turn of my memory bank it reveals the bone yard of failed ambitions and dashed hopes. I wonder if it has all equaled out.  Was it worth it and if it wasn’t then what was the alternative.  The old saying is “hindsight is always twenty – twenty.”  How true. You would have, maybe you should have, but reality says it is to no avail because the past is set in stone and cannot be changed.

The verse in scripture says, forgetting those things which are behind……so I try to learn from the mistakes made.  It does no good to wallow in the past either good or bad.  For better or worse the past is just that it is the past.

Inside of me a voice screams, I have so much to do, I can’t be old but another voice soon joins the chorus and answers, “yes you are and you are tired.  You can’t be twenty or thirty anymore. Reality drops like a thud and I must accept the stage of life I am at.  Ecclesiastes tells us there is a season and a time for everything.  This is my season at this time.

As I grow older I understand my mother and how she must have felt.  With age comes a perspective not found in youth. Even in the sunset years there is beauty.  There are still things to look forward to that are great.  You are free from the constraints that once bound you.  You are not afraid to go with out makeup and maybe your hair is not perfect.  So what if you don’t finish what you started.  You sometimes indulge in that extra piece of chocolate.

At this time in my life I am beginning to deal with the reality that I am not immortal and there will be an end.  Death no longer looms so far away but is a blessing that will come.  When death comes I shall pass from this earthly existence and transcend to the eternal home prepared by my Heavenly Father. He is waiting to welcome His child home.  At this age in life my thoughts turn more toward heaven and wondering, “what will it be like, what will I see, how will I feel and all the other thoughts that trigger my contemplating heaven. Just like the song says “I can only Imagine.”

In the end, I want to be able to say “I have run the course, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  In that last and final breath my spirit and soul will sprint to the finish line where there awaits for me the crown of eternal life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Old Tells The Story

I love the old hymns and songs we sang in church as I grew up.  Today I love the new music that inspires us as we worship.  I am still drawn to these hymns and songs.  I share the titles of them with you and maybe you will recall them and the message they had.

I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY – Arabella Catherine Hankey  This song reminds me that I love hearing the stories of Jesus and I never tire of learning more about my Savior.

A NEW NAME IN GLORY – C. Austin Miles  The first line says it all.  “I was once a sinner.”

AMAZING GRACE – John Newton, John P. Reese  It was truly God’s amazing grace that reached down to a young girl and saved her soul and set her on a path of living for and serving God.

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS – George Bennard   These words so well known, lets me know the price Jesus paid for my sin.  For me these words truly express how I feel.  “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross…”

SINCE JESUS CAME INTO MY HEART –Rufus H. McDaniel  The first verse describes exactly what happens when we accept Christ as our Savior.  “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart.”

TRUSTING JESUS – Edgar Page Stites  I love the first line because it simply states how to walk in our life. “Simply trusting every day, trusting thro’ a stormy way, Even when my faith is small, Trusting Jesus that is all.”

SAVIOR LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US –Dorothy A. Thrupp   Words in this song assure me I am not alone and that I am cared for.  The words of “Savior like a shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care” help me understand that He is there directing my path.

PRECIOUS LORD TAKE MY HAND – Thomas A. Dorsey  “Precious Lord take my hand, lead me on help me stand – I am tired, I am weak, I am worn..”lets me know whatever circumstances I face, the Lord is holding my hand and I will make it.

FAITH IS THE VICTORY – John H. Yates  This is how I walk my Christian life, by faith.  The last sentence of the first verse says it all.  “ Faith is the victory we know, that overcomes the world.”

There are so many songs that tell the story and I could fill pages but the final one I list tells me where I will be when my life comes to an end.

WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN – Eliza E. Hewitt  The first line of the chorus tells me exactly where I will be when my life come to an end. “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.

I am looking forward to that day.  Maranatha!

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Once Again

There she was again.  I watched as she walked up the front walk to ring the doorbell.  What would I say to her that would help? The look in her eyes told me how troubled the past year had been.  Breathing a silent prayer for help, I asked that in some way I might lighten the heavy load she carried.

Mugs on the table, filled with the wafting aroma of coffee freshly brewed were ready.  Cookies on the plate waited to be dunked in that warm brown liquid.  I waited for her to start.  I knew her mind was whirling with thoughts of where to begin.

After dispensing with the “pleasant” conversation about kids, house, spouse the real reason for her being there started tumbling out.

“I don’t know where I belong and I don’t know what my purpose is,” she said.  “What do you mean,” I asked?  She wanted to trust me with her hurts but it was hard for her to be transparent.  She had been hurt by those she had trusted in before.  Sharing her deepest feelings with a particular person she had once trusted turned around to bite her in the back.  It was as if a dagger had been inserted into her heart and the betrayal was more than she wanted to remember.

I waited a long time, minutes seemed like hours, and finally out came all the things she had been holding inside.

“I can’t really trust anyone.  Everyone thinks I have it all together and I don’t.”

She was the one people turned to for help.  She was the one that prayed and read scripture with them.  They never knew she had weak moments.  Her doubts and feelings of emptiness were well hidden.  She was the spiritual rock.  Everyone knew her story and she was admired for overcoming so many things, but had she?

Kids gone, change of location, and retirement left her feeling adrift.  There was nothing to anchor her.  She felt used up and tossed away.  Reality said that was not true but she felt that any way.

She watched as others achieved goals, goals she wanted to achieve but were delayed by circumstances beyond her control.  Angry, frustrated, devalued, that’s what she thought of herself.

I listened.  Praying silently that somehow I could penetrate this wall she built around herself.

She loved people, she really did but so afraid that if they got too close she would lose again and the cycle would repeat.  The load she carried now was enough she didn’t need more added guilt.

She spoke and said, “I let resentment knock at my door.  I let “him” in and he brought a host of other friends.  Doubt, jealousy, Mr. Inadequate showed up and he brought seeds of bitterness to plant in her life.   I don’t want this but the more I pray the more I try to surrender it seems these unwelcome guests become entrenched and comfortable.  I’ve almost given up on trying,” she said. “I know they are not pleasing to my Heavenly Father but I am becoming comfortable with them and afraid they will never leave.”

She became silent and let the salty tears flow into the cold coffee.

Again, breathing a silent pray, I choose my words carefully.  “You are not alone in this.  I have talked with others that feel this same way.  One reason or another has brought them to the same place you are.

I want to tell you that your Heavenly Father loves you so much.  You are not a failure in His eyes.  You are walking the path He has set for you and when you think you have failed, and if you did, He gently draws you back to himself.  Even when we justify the way we feel, and maybe we have or think we have a good reason, the Father still cares.

“Those feelings are there, and maybe we don’t want to give them up but ask the Father to help you be willing to surrender,” I said. “Tell Him you can’t love those that hurt you but ask Him to help you to be willing to love.”

The battle is never easy.  The enemy of your soul wants nothing more than to distract and destroy what God is trying to accomplish in your life.  Ask God to send you a true friend, one that you can trust.  When you experience those feelings rise up call the friend God sent and pray together.  It may take time but as we surrender to God all of the areas of our life He will come and make us into the vessel He has called us to be.

Those feeling cannot stay as God moves into your life and consumes you.

In Acts 17:28(ERV) it says:

It is through him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are… We all come from him.

If you feel like this I want you to know God cares and He loves you.

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Before and After – A Mother Remembers

It really was a beautiful day as the warm rays of the sunshine bathed the room in a soft glow. Sitting by the small window, lost in thought, caught up in remembering all the changes in her life since that one day. Even the shining sun would not block out the memories of the three days cloaked in such darkness.

Getting pregnant was not what she planned. She was only engaged, babies came after marriage. The day she received the news she would become pregnant certainly was unique. So many unusual circumstances surrounded the birth of her son. She retained everything about that time. She kept so many of these events in her heart and thought about what they meant.

Remembering watching him grow, play, and follow the man he called father brought a smile to her face. This man, this wonderful man, married her even though he knew the child was not his. Raising this little one as his, providing for them without once complaining caused thankfulness in her heart. The tousled head tot followed him everywhere and took in everything he saw.

She recalled how eager he was to learn and it seemed he was wise, so wise. It was as if his knowledge was far beyond what her husband and the elders had taught him. She could only remember one time, as a youth, that he caused her concern. It was on that trip. She thought he was with friends or family only to find out he was not there. They had to make the journey back to where they had been to find him. They found him. He was in the temple. She couldn’t believe what he was saying. He was confounding the elders with his knowledge.

Seated by the same window, dressed in mourning clothes she didn’t want to remember the past days. Those days of the mocking, the lies told about her son. The trial was a joke. The witnesses lied. He only did good. Why? Wasn’t the blind man who could now see better off? What about the crippled man now walking and others whose lives had been forever changed for the better? She couldn’t fathom that one of those that followed him became the betrayer. Her son cared for him.

Such a cruel death. He really didn’t deserve this. Inside her heart she screamed silently, he only did good. She remembered standing at the foot of the cross. Tears streaming down, a mothers heart breaking as she looked up and saw his face. Even in that torment, he remembered her and asked one of his followers to care for her. Where would they bury him? She didn’t have the money to pay for a tomb. She was thankful for the kindness of one that provided his burial tomb.

They took him from the cross and wrapped his body for burial. She didn’t want to remember that image but it was stamped in her memory. They laid him in the tomb but couldn’t finish the process because it would soon be the Sabbath. They would go after the Sabbath passed and take the spices they needed to finish the burial process.

A smile crossed her face as she remembers that particular day. The “spice day.” They went very early to the tomb. On the way, they wondered who would roll away the heavy stone that sealed the grave. What a surprise! The stone was rolled away. Jesus was not there!

What had happened? It had just been three days. Wait, she remembered, he did say something about he would rise – on the third day- yes that was what he said. She remembered.

Today, because of this, all of humanity can be free. Free from the guilt that sin brings. The chains of our past are broken, and the addictions of our present are paid for. We just need to believe and ask for forgiveness.

Words of the song by Bill and Gloria Gaither ring true. “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.”

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16,17

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Love – What is it?

Have you ever met someone you just couldn’t love or someone or thing you are “madly in love with? Today we toss those words around so lightly. We hang up the phone and casually say – “love you.” Parting words between friends, “love you.”

It is easy to love those in our closed inner circle but what about others we see or encounter daily. Can you extend love?

Love – just what is it?
Here is how the dictionary defines love:
An emotion
A deep and tender feeling of affection
A deep and tender feeling of affection for attachment
A feeling of brotherhood and good will toward other people
Infatuation
A strong liking for or interest in something
Sexual passion
Types of love
Philos – brotherly love, liking
Eros – sexual love
Agape – Godly love
Various phrases we use can express this emotion.
In love
For love
Feel love
Make love

Love also implies intense fondness or deep devotion and may apply to various relationships, objects or causes.

The Bible speaks to us of love and the most familiar verse from scripture says:

John 3:16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. (Amp. Bible)

Other verses speak of love

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

1 Corinthians 13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. …

This topic of love can lead to an almost endless discussion.

One thing I know loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. What a different world we would have if everyone practiced loving God as He requires and loving others.

For me falling in love with God’s son Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done.

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Dreams and Ashes

Dreams and Ashes

If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Visualize and you can bring it to be. Great statements. Good advice. We need people that do this.

I had dreams as a young woman. I wanted to go college; I did, when others thought I could not.

Listing all the qualities I wanted in my life’s mate caused some to say settle for the majority of points on your list. I didn’t settle and I found the man of God’s choosing for me.

I visualized my career and life path in my mind so that success would be guaranteed, or so I thought. There is nothing wrong with this process except in many areas of life it was what I want, where I wanted to go and what I dreamed successful.

To say my life is a failure –well, no it is not. Many of the things I determined to accomplish, I completed.

If that is so, what about the ashes? Lofty and noble dreams – yes, yet in many areas the lofty and noble turned to ashes. Well-laid plans crumbled and losses seemed to crush my very soul.
Finally, realization, everything though good was my plan, my way and not what God had planned for me.

I did what the line in the song “Something Beautiful” said. I wrapped my dreams, my plans, and goals in the rags of my life and laid them at the cross. (Bill Gaither, 1971)

Now when I talk with God, I say, “these are my plans I have for my life,” and I ask Him to show me His plans for me. His plans are not always, what I would choose, but out of the ashes I give to him, He makes something beautiful.

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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Home

My house is quiet now. The summer time visits from children and grandchildren is ended and grandpa and I are back to the regular routine of our lives. Quiet reigns and things are back in their place, furniture once rearranged to accommodate the number of people in the house is now in normal place.

The last group of family has left and we await for the next group to come in September. I love the times of instant chaos these visits cause. After a while, I am ready for the “normal routine” to prevail once again.

Early, I mean early, about 4:45 a.m. we all stood in the entryway holding hands in a circle as grandpa prayed for safe travel. One more hug from my daughter and she whispered in my ear it was good to be home, and then they piled in the van (all 7 of them) and started the long journey back to New Jersey.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what she whispered, “It was good to be home.” We certainly didn’t live in Florida when she was growing up. In fact, there were several states that we “called home.” While all our kids are now grown, and they have their own places, it seems where mom and dad live is “home to them.” It is in mom and dad that their roots were established and home really resides in them and not the place.

There is an old song that has this line in it, “this world is not my home, I’m just a traveling through, my treasures are laid up… For me Florida is my earthly place of abode now, but my true home is where my Heavenly Father is.

The older I become the more I realize this earth holds less of an attachment. I am getting homesick for my true home. Yes, I really enjoy all that I have the house, the family and friendships but as the years pass, I seem to have more on the “other side” that have gone before me.

One day I will breathe my final breath, close my eyes to this earthly abode and awake to breathe celestial air and live forever with my Heavenly Father. I will be home at last. It is then I will say to Jesus, “It is good to be home.”

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Hurt

Today is a day she wanted to sit down and cry. “I am hurt,” she cried silently as her heart broke. Words written by one that she so loved brought such an ache. They never thought the words they spoke/wrote could pierce the heart of one they loved. She spent her life pouring values into this one but today their words told a different story. With all her heart, she hoped and prayed the words reflected a passing phase but terrified they didn’t.

She loved this one so unconditionally. The values taught in the formative years seemed tossed aside. Broken hearted she let the tears fall down her cheeks. How could these words be said so easily? What happened to the promise of “train up a child and when they are old they will not depart from it?” Can I just bury this feeling? She didn’t think so; the ache in her heart went deep. She wanted them to be able to say anything, wanted them to know they can let all their feelings be known. She won’t judge. Openness in the relationship is one thing but experiencing such pain and distress when values not shared is another. Can I just go back to when they were little, when life was simple, or she thought it was simple.

She questions herself. Did I do all that I could? Was I good enough? Somehow, did I fail? What went wrong? What more could I do? Whom do I blame or is there even blame to be placed? All these questions tormented her.

Running to God and with tears streaming down her face she tells Him about this. God, this is how I feel. Her sobs come from deep within as she talks to Him. Can nothing ease this heartache? She thinks about the words written and cries. What caused this? Will she live to see the answer to her prayer?

The raging storm of emotions is lessening, the tears have stopped and her heard hurts. Exhausted, she tells God there is no other place to go. No one can change a heart but you. Reminded of words from a song “He knows my need, He sees my every longing, and hears me when I call.” She finds comfort in these words. She sings them softly in her heart.

The pain is subsiding, and the tears, for now, have gone away. The tasks of the day beckon, cleaning, cooking and putting the house in order. She chooses to keep busy and keep her mind engaged on the things that need doing but what caused the pain and tears is not resolved. She can’t fix it so she places it all in the hands of a Heavenly Father who knows her need.

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Powerful Phrases

In my devotional reading I use various translations and paraphrases of the Bible. I always have a devotional or inspirational book at hand to read after praying and reading the word. I sometimes get so engrossed in reading and talking with God I find I am not aware of how much time has silently slipped away.

God’s word is so powerful.

Hebrews 4:12 in the Message says:
God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

Today I share phrases that caused me to stop and think. Phrases from verses in the Message are so powerful. In my Bible, I underlined them in red so I could see them every time I turned to the book of 1John.

1 John 2:
His life doesn’t match his words
Whoever hates is still in the dark
Don’t love the world’s ways, Don’t love the world’s goods

1 John 3:
Let’s not just talk about love, let’s practice real love
For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do
ourselves
1 John 4
for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world
God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through Him
Sent his son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done
to our relationship with God
There is no room in love for fear
Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both

1 John 5
The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith
The God begotten are also the God protected

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