JANUARY 8, 2014
Do you have a burden too great to bear? A sorrow that won’t let up?
I got some news today that someone I love has felt deeply troubled and fallen into depression which led him to do something he deeply regrets. Jeremiah walked along side his people as they suffered the consequences of their disobedience to God. His own people did terrible things to him when he tried to warn them of the inevitable judgement of God. Because God loved His people, Israel, with whom He had made a covenant, He came to a place where He could no longer wait for them to change their abominable behavior. God had to act according to His Word. Jeremiah, prophet of the Lord, was drawn into the circumstances that rained down on his nation. Sometimes we get to suffer along side those we love when they have to experience God’s discipline. Jeremiah tells us there is hope. I needed to hear that today. Out of Jeremiah’s greatest despair came faith and hope in the God whose mercy and love never fails. Take hope in the Lord. He will not fail to bring about the light of His love in the darkest of places.
I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light.
He has walled me in so I cannot escape; He has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, He shuts out my prayer.
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is owncast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion’s never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your Faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
No one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.
For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.
THE POWER OF THE WORD MADE FLESH
DECEMBER 25, 2014
In all the multitudes of man’s literary attempts there are no more powerful words or story than God’s Writing in Flesh. Stepping down from holiness and glory into the mess of this world, Christ became flesh so that in one man, we could see, believe and be reborn.
John 1:14 (NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
THE PROMISE COMING!
December 22, 2014
The celebration of Christmas will come and go this week as we spend time with family and exchange gifts. The real Christmas is the celebration of the coming of Messiah, the Christ. For those who are followers of Christ, it’s not only recognizing the gift of God in a Savior for mankind, but also the looking forward to the Return of the King. The Gift was given about 2000 years ago followed by His own promise to return. Those not believing in Christ, will find the whole idea of Jesus coming back again, a little like a Sci-fi story. Some would even say He is a little late to the party, waiting 2000 years to reappear.
God lives outside our “time zone” and is not limited to our time table of expectation. The Savior was promised in Genesis 3. Depending on how long ago you think that conversation took place, determines how long you believe God made mankind wait for the promised Savior. Man lives in a limited, one dimensional sphere of time. We can only live in the present, reflect on the past and hope for the future. God exits within all times at the same moment and lives outside of time itself, in the realm of eternity. God is the big picture King. He knows His own mind and plans. Most of us, think in the context of our own life time, forgetting that God lives outside our box.
Getting a better perspective on who God is will make a difference in how we wait for him. He isn’t like Auntie Lucy who kept everyone waiting for her while she did her hair and make up. He has not forgotten what time it is because He was busy with some creative project. God knows the exact time when He will wind up this part of Earth’s history and bring in the next stage where His righteous Son, Jesus Christ will reign. It is our job to wait with expectation and living life as if He could appear tomorrow morning at 9 AM. Jesus tells us that no one knows the hour except the Father. Jesus also warned us not to be taken by surprise as were the virgins waiting for the bridegroom coming to take his bride home with him. There is a good study on this scripture, Matthew 25:1-13 at: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Matt/Awaiting-Bridegroom. The point being, that we should be expecting the Return of the King even though we don’t know when his exact arrival will be.
God waits to fulfill His good plan. If we know Him as a loving, holy(without fault), just, merciful, kind and self sacrificing Being, then we know that He doesn’t linger just to get under our skin or to “play” with us. He waits for the fulfillment of certain events that take place in people’s hearts. Most of us, with our limited vision of holiness and eternal issues, just don’t “get” Him because we see only through the eyes of our experiences. It takes the Holy Spirit, interpreting to our hearts, the foreign language of God’s great love towards us and the holiness of His person.
This year I not only want to celebrate with thanksgiving, the gift of my Savior but also spend some time looking forward to the reappearing of that same Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus wants us to know He is coming back. In the following intimate setting with His disciples in John 14, He reassures them that if He goes away, He will come back.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me.2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
I love Thomas. He is the disciple that didn’t believe Jesus had risen from the grave even when the others told him about it. He boasted that he wouldn’t believe it until he put his fingers into the pierced wounds in Jesus hands. Thomas is the scientist, the scoffer of miracles even though he had seen them for 3 years with his own eyes. He wants to see and touch to believe. So Jesus answers his question.
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Anticipation brings excitement to our lives. Are we living for the moment when our Lord returns? The promise was fulfilled 2000 years ago. A Savior was born, who would be for all people. The other half of the promise is that He will return. Amidst the twinkling colored lights, beautiful carols and family “get togethers” let us stop for a moment and think about the second part of the promise that is yet to be fulfilled. Let us rejoice with anticipation!
Thanksgiving has passed for another year as we recover from large meals and family reunions. Everyone thought about what they were thankful for and said the appropriate prayers acknowledging God’s blessings. Now we can move on to Christmas. How cold that seems in reflection but unfortunately there is some truth in the chill.
A busy life seems to move from one event to another with little time for reflection. That has been the story of my life this season of the year for a long time. This year, I decided to make some changes in schedule and the events I participate in. I am weary of the stress I put on myself to create the perfect Christmas for my family and piano students. I am weary of the emotional disconnection of the celebration even though I have planned it to be centered on Christ’s Birthday.
This year there is another empty seat around the table with my Mom’s passing this last July. My Mother in law passed almost three years ago and left the first empty seat. The last ten years of my life has been centered on caring for them in our home. The empty seats represent a big hole not only in my heart but in my life. I praise God that they chose Him to spend eternity with. They both committed their hearts to the Savior and His love for them. I know where they are and that they are safe in His loving arms.
This year, I am not so ready to move on towards Christmas. I want to linger longer in the spirit of Thanksgiving. I want to remember all the blessings God has bestowed on me this last year, even through the darker days. I want to remember with my heart, not just with my words. I want to remember GOD, who He is and what He has done. I want to feel Him with my heart and reach out and touch Him with my soul.
It is very clear in Scripture that we are to live a life of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not a once a year event but is to be a daily practice. A few years ago I read the best seller, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp which challenged the reader to start counting the blessings of God and offer Him gifts of Praise. How different life looks when you are actively seeking to see God’s blessings and respond back to His generosity with gratefulness. It changes your perspective.
I stopped writing down the gifts in my own journal at around a hundred because the busyness of my life took over. It is now time for me to revisit the concept of recognizing blessing and practicing thanksgiving. I want to challenge myself to resist getting caught up in the visual celebration and practice the spiritual celebration of thanksgiving this year. I will keep you posted on how my journey goes this year.