Saturday, February 25, 2012

To Comfort & Encourage - Dinner #50

     Our neighbor’s mother passed away, a missionary’s 3-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident, a friend from my childhood suffered a miscarriage, a college friend had two of her grandparents die in one week, a friend from church lost their son-in-law . . . I have seen SO much hurt and loss, this month! What a wonderful thing to know that during each and ever y heartache that we face, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . .” (Isaiah 53:4) Blessed be the Name of Our Loving Lord!
     Have you gone through trials and hurt in your own life? II Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”  No matter what you have faced, God was right there to see you through! Did you lean on Him? Did He give you some particular comfort from His Word during those darkest hours? There may be a time in your life when He will later impress it upon your heart to share that comfort with someone else!  Going through a deep hurt, helps you to hurt deeply for others!  In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus declares, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  You, too, have lost a parent.  You, too, have buried a young child in the ground.  You, too, have watched a spouse slowly die of cancer.  And now, by God’s wondrous grace, you have the strength to put your arm around someone else going through the same thing, and to PRAY with them in Jesus’ Precious Name! 
     This modern technological age that we live in is a powerful thing!  Hebrews 3:13 tells us to, “. . .  exhort one another daily, while it is called To day . . .” How simple that is in the year 2012!  We have an opportunity to reach out and encourage others, like never before!   Within SECONDS of the word being out that a loved one has been injured or passed away, prayers can go up, links and photos can be shared, and phone calls can be made.  Within SECONDS!  Of course, like anything in our sinful world, this speed and technology can also be used for evil.  We’ve seen in recent years how people have committed MURDER over one hateful message on the internet! Facebook, emails, blogs . . . They can be used for griping about politics, but they can also be a tool for sharing God’s love with other people! “Statuses” and “updates” can be things violently fought over, or they can be things used to greatly glorify God!  Psalm 133:1 declares, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” God wants His children to have unity! In a world that is rampant with hatred and strife, you can choose, by God’s grace, to be a BLESSING! 
    In Romans chapter 12, Paul tells us that “exhortation”, or “encouragement”,  is actually a spiritual gift from the Lord.  Some people may have a “gift” for encouraging, more than others, but Christ wants EVERY ONE of us to “Bear ye on another’s burdens . . .” (Galatians 6:2) and to “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2:4) Do you know someone whose heart is hurting? Lift them up in prayer!  Do you know someone who needs a loving word? Reach out to them, today!  I Thessalonians 5:11 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another . . .”  Your love in Christ may heal a sister’s broken spirit! Your compassion and concern may lead some lost soul to Jesus! Hebrews 3:13 “. . .  exhort one another daily, while it is called To day . . .” God has called each of His children to COMFORT & ENCOURAGE!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Royal Resemblance - Dinner #49

     I come from a long line of people who have treasured memories.  They were people who held onto who they were and where they’d come from.  Ancestors of mine, as far back as the American Civil War, held onto old photographs, diaries, letters, receipts, and business cards! They were farmers and lumberjacks, immigrants and soldiers, dentists and pioneers . . . Whatever their professions, you can look at their pictures and see similarities in a jaw-line, here, or a hair-line, there.  It is pretty amazing!
     As our baby girl grows older, it becomes more difficult to say which side of the family she resembles most.  If you ask MY mother who our little Brooklyn looks the most like, she will definitely say that it’s me.  If you ask BRANDON’S mom who Brooklyn most resembles, she will surely say that it’s Brandon! Each looks at their grandchild and sees a glimmer of the baby they once held in their own arms.  Babies look like their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents . . . They even tend to ACT like them! God did that for a reason – He allowed family to LOOK LIKE family!   
     Do we resemble our HEAVENLY Father, in the way that we speak and conduct ourselves?  I John 2:4-6 “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Do we walk “even as he walked”?
     What did Jesus do, when He was here upon this earth? What kind of an example did He leave behind for us? Jesus gave Himself for OTHERS – He served others, He suffered for others, and He even DIED for others!  Luke 14:27 and Mark 10:45 go hand-in-hand:  “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” . . . “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Are we giving OUR lives for many?  Are we being tools and vessels fit for His use, even in our own families? Jesus declared, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Do we daily “give our lives” for the sake of our little lambs? 
     II Corinthians 9:6-7 speaks of having a giving heart.  "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." Are you sowing sparingly or bountifully in your garden of motherhood and wifehood, today?? Are you giving to your family cheerfully or just because you "have to"?? As you read, sing, cook, clean, hug, and feed, are you POURING YOUR VERY HEART AND SOUL into the role that God has given you?  II Corinthians 9:8 holds a special promise: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”  God can GIVE you sufficient grace to accomplish what you need to in the lives of your family!   He ALONE can HELP you to be more like Him as you serve Him day by day! Ephesians 5:1-2 “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us . . .”
     Genealogy is truly fascinating. A particular last name can end up on censuses, deeds, wills . . . But is our name written down “where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:20)?  Are we truly one of GOD’S CHILDREN? And if we ARE, do we BEHAVE like one of God’s children?  Whether cleaning our homes or caring for our little ones, God wants us to have a “royal resemblance”! Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Before "Yet" - Dinner #48

     In our adult Sunday School class, we were going through a series of lessons, this past month, on the book of Habakkuk.  Due to sickness in our household, and being out of town, we unfortunately missed several of the lessons, so I recently sat down, to read through the book of Habakkuk on my own.  My favorite verse in those three short chapters was Habakkuk 3:18 - “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”  Even if this happens, or this, or this . . .YET I will rejoice! I had to ask myself the question, what can I put before “yet”?  In my own personal life, I must resolve in my heart that . . . Even if we move further away from my parents – yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  . . .  Even if we cannot afford to pay this bill or that – yet I will rejoice in the Lord! . . . Even if we are not blessed with more babies for a while – yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  . . . No matter what circumstances come my way, I must determine to REJOICE IN THE LORD MY GOD!   I can worry night and day about what “might happen” or what “could happen”, or I can choose to rejoice in Christ my Savior NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS!  Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
     We can put our trust in God to take care of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we place before that “yet” in our lives! In Habakkuk 1:5, the Lord tells His prophet, “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.” God has plans for us that we wouldn’t even believe! Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We may not be able to see why certain things are happening in our lives, or why certain things are the way they are, but God is ever working in our lives! Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil . . .” Whatever you are going through, whatever you THINK you MIGHT have to go through, God is with you!  He is a God Who faithfully keeps His promises, and He has promised us in His Word, “ . . . I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
     In the New Testament, a group of women came to the tomb of the Lord Jesus, wishing to anoint His body with spices.  Mark 16:3 tells us, “And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?”  The women knew that up ahead, a problem awaited them.  How could they possibly move that large stone covering the face of the tomb?  The very next verse declares, “And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away . . . “ When the ladies arrived, they found that they had really had nothing to worry about, all along! The stone was ALREADY rolled away! In fact, we know from the rest of the story, that the Lord Jesus had actually risen from the dead! God already knows our futures, and the outcomes of all our problems.  That stone we fear, may not even BE THERE, once we arrive! We must place our worries in the Lord’s loving hands and leave them there! Psalm 94:19 says, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
     Will this or that happen? Will it not happen at all? Habakkuk 3:18 “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” The future may be frightful and the way uncertain, but one thing we know for sure – we can REJOICE in God because He holds tomorrow in His hands! Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that his higher than I.” What a loving God we serve! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Kind & Loving Tongue - Dinner #47

     I wrote a status on Facebook, recently, encouraging people to be courteous to those, like my husband, who work in the fast food industry.  It got me to thinking . . . How many times do we all say things, so thoughtless of the circumstances going on in another person’s life?! Proverbs 10:19 declares that, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” Part of the problem is, that, as women, we tend to talk TOO much!  We often don’t stop to think before we blurt out some hurtful comment or some gossipy remark.  We criticize a lady across the room from us, for having a “boyish” haircut, without stopping to think that she might have had cancer treatments within the year!  We make hurtful comments about a mom who never puts her baby in the church nursery, without realizing that her "preemie" is still susceptible to becoming dangerously sick with the latest germ.  We talk about how “awful” it is that someone’s children go to public school, that someone only has one child, or that someone’s baby drinks formula, without caring to stop and understand the circumstances! The Bible says, “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth.” (James 3:5) How very hurtful we, as ladies, can be with our WORDS!
     Men like Hitler and Stalin are known for being destroyers of millions of innocents, but I’m afraid that many women throughout history have been “murderers of the human spirit”.  Proverbs 12:18 “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword . . .” Women have such power with the things that they say! They can build up a grown man, or they can tear him down in an instant.  They can encourage their children to greatness, or they can criticize them until they no longer have a shred of confidence in themselves or anyone else.  In Proverbs 18:21, Solomon warns us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Did you know that you can cause a person to “die” on the inside with the very things that you say?! You can also bring “life” and great joy! 
     In the New Testament, James shares that we are ALL guilty of causing injury with our tongues. “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:2) Not one of us is perfect! We ALL offend others with our words! But sometimes, I’m afraid we forget that, one day, “ . . .every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) We will be judged later, and we will pay consequences, EVEN NOW, for the way we use the power of our tongues! Psalm 34:12-13 asks us, “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.” Proverbs 15:4 reiterates that, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life . . .”
     How do you want to be known? As a gossiper? As a criticizer?  When we read about the “Proverbs 31 Woman”, we find that, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom: and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” How beautiful to be known as one who speaks with a kind and loving tongue! Will we sometimes make mistakes? Yes.  We all sin! But Romans 12:18 admonishes us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” When we are tempted to gossip, or to be hurtful with our words, this week, may we pray with the Psalmist David, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)