Tears don’t come easily for me. My indignation rises when I hear of godlessness and injustice, but do my deeply held convictions really grip my heart? So I was thrilled the other day when God granted me the gift of tears. I had just been thinking about the travesty of unborn babies being ripped apart for the convenience of their mothers and/or the insistence of family members and for the sake of abortionists’ greed in accordance with our society’s high value of sexual license. Then unexpectedly I found my tears mingling with the dishwater there at the sink, sobbing at the fate of those precious children! Thank you, Lord, for giving me tears!
Lord, please give me tears often to cry…
…for my brothers and sisters imprisoned and tortured for your sake.
…for women and children in slavery, exploited by cruel, greedy, and lustful men.
…for hearts so hard as to do these things to others.
…for unborn children bring torn limb from limb every day.
…for people longing for the freedom I take for granted.
…for my self-centeredness.
…for the cold, hungry and homeless.
…for those who have never known the true love of a mother, or father.
…for the poverty of my love for you and others.
…for those existing day by day with no hope of heaven to give meaning to their lives.
Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
Two books of “gloom and doom” are found in the Old Testament: Job and Lamentations. The main body of both of these is a series of laments over tragedy. For Job, it was personal tragedy—rather, a whole series of them. For Jeremiah, who wrote Lamentations, it was national tragedy as he toured the ruins of what had been his beloved Jerusalem.
But in the middle of each book shines an outstanding expression of hope.
Job, after expressing a lot of complaint and despair, bursts out with a statement of faith that on which Handel based a beautiful air in his Messiah:
But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought! (Job 19:25-17 NLT)
And Jeremiah—right smack dab in the middle of his anguish, he exclaims:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
When gloom and doom loom on my horizon, Lord, let me see that silver lining and hope in You!
While other houses around here are sporting fall and Halloween decorations, we got a jump on them and put up Mom’s Christmas tree already! This is something I thought I could do for her during my short visit, but it does bring a sense of excitement to see it shining there in the dark of the early morning. Another part of Christmas that I look forward to is listening to Handel’s “Messiah,” even if it’s only on a CD.
Part of that musical work is based on Isaiah 9 which I read this morning. The light shining in darkness is even more poignant as the world grows dark around us and we long for the light at the end of that tunnel.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
In my Bible I have written “Jesus!” in the margin. It’s a very familiar passage which we associate with Christ’s birth at Christmas. But the next lines have definitely not yet been fulfilled:
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice
from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
Oh, how I long for this part of the prophecy to be fulfilled! Jesus Himself will rule singlehandedly with true peace, justice and righteousness. No more scam, scandal, selfishness, secrecy, oppression, violence, deception and all the other things that characterize government and society today. I am committed, by God’s grace, to stay the course. Not to give up in despair or to give in to the forces of evil (even those in sheep’s clothing). It will be worth it all when that glorious kingdom arrives!
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
I’m a bookworm, but I don’t buy, keep, or re-read books unless they’re very, very special. Those that merit a permanent place on our bookshelves are the exceptions. Today I want to share an exceptional book with you which my husband and I have just read together. It is truly a keeper!
Miracle on the River Kwai, by Ernest Gordon, is a story of grace in the worst possible of circumstances. Under the most extreme duress, despair and hopelessness were transformed to faith in God, redemption, and selfless love for one another. It began with a few POWs who sacrificially served and even laid down their lives to save others in what had been a dog-eat-dog environment, every man for himself. The power of God changed lives long-term as they served, taught, shared and worshipped with one another for several years as the war raged on. When they were finally released, one of the men said, “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. It was rough, all right. But I learned an awful lot that I couldn’t have learned at the university or anywhere else.”
When hard times come for me, I pray that God’s grace and power will do the same, shining through the darkness to refine my character in ways that may not be possible through peace time.
People said it was the most amazing funeral they’d ever been to. At the visitation we family members all wore bright yellow t-shirts, our granddaughter Emmeline’s favorite color. It’s a color of joy and of the confidence we have that she is now enjoying the delights of heaven that we are all looking forward to. And when we get there, she will enjoy being our tour guide.
As the casket came down the aisle at the beginning of the service, her uncle (who happens to be a professional singer) opened our imagination with this song:
I dreamed of a city called Glory, so bright and so fair
As I entered that gate, I cried holy
All the angels met me there
They carried me from mansion to mansion
And all the sights I saw
I said I want to see Jesus, the One who died for all
I bowed on my knees and cried Holy, holy, holy
I clapped my hands and sang glory,
Glory to the Son of God
Glory to the Son of God
When I entered the gates of the city
My loved ones all knew me well
They took me down the streets of heaven
All the saints were too many to tell
I saw Abraham, Jacob and Isaac
Talked with Mark, sat down with Timothy
But then I said, I want to see Jesus, the One who died for me (by Bill Gaither)
After Emmeline’s “earth-suit” (as my brother calls it) was lowered into the earth, we celebrated the flight of her spirit into her heavenly home by releasing yellow balloons into the sky and watching until they were out of sight. Death is the last enemy but not the victor. Christ has defeated death, and we who are His participate in His victory!
When my sister and I got Monopoly for Christmas one year, we played it every day of vacation. Each game took hours! At first it’s fun, but as the balance of wealth begins to lean to one side, it’s just a painful matter of time until the inevitable happens—if you’re losing. (And if you’re winning, it becomes rather boring.) Monopoly Deal, on the other hand (a new card game that we’re getting our granddaughter Emmeline for her birthday—don’t tell!), is a refreshing change that allows the balance to be upset very quickly and unexpectedly, giving hope to the underdog. And it takes only 15-20 minutes to play!
That’s what I thought of when I read Psalm 2 this morning.
Why do the nations gather together?
Why do their people devise useless plots?
Kings take their stands.
Rulers make plans together
against the LORD and against his Messiah by saying,
“Let’s break apart their chains
and shake off their ropes.”
The one enthroned in heaven laughs.
The Lord makes fun of them.
Then he speaks to them in his anger.
In his burning anger he terrifies them by saying,
“I have installed my own king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
(Psalm 2:1-6, God’s Word translation)
Powerful and ungodly nations and rulers may seem to have the upper hand now, but God is not worried. The balance of power will change dramatically and He will have the last laugh, punishing those who defy Him and installing the Lord Jesus as the eternal King over all. This is my comfort and my hope as I live as an alien on this earth, a subject of the Kingdom of God.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
Early last Wednesday morning, two men entered God’s presence about the same time. One was Howard Hendricks, a talented and well-loved seminary professor who had served the Lord for decades. The other was Don, my brother’s step-father-in-law who had joined God’s family less than two years ago. Also about that same time, a pastor with his entire family was ambushed and killed here on the island where I live, and two Egyptian Coptic Christians were brutally murdered in the United States. All of these are now enjoying together all the delights of God’s presence and the LIFE that He’s prepared for them.
Here’s an excellent article I read recently that puts heaven in a much different perspective than we have often thought. Our present existence is the “pre-life,“ the prelude to the real thing which these people have now begun to enjoy. http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/02/21/why-the-afterlife-bores-us/ I hope you read and enjoy it.
As I try to grasp the thought that my beloved granddaughter may soon be there too, my heart both aches and rejoices for her. Or maybe the ache is what I feel for myself, missing her already. Maybe I’m a bit envious of the beauty, joy, love, wholeness and perfection that she will be experiencing there. But I will be joining her sooner or later, and that is the confidence that I live for. Will you be there too? I hope so.
“It’s a sad day for all of us!”—a famous quote in our family (from my niece), describes our feeling upon taking down the Christmas decorations. Do all the joy, peace, and hope go with us into the new year? If God is with us (Immanuel), surely they will.
What does this new year hold? I don’t make New Year’s resolutions—they’re too quickly broken. But these are among the things I pray will happen:
–The salvation of a friend.
–Worldwide turning to the Lord.
–Revival among God’s people.
–More Christ-likeness in myself.
–Courage and joy to face whatever lies ahead in this uncertain world, knowing Who holds my hand.
–Christ’s return! Maranatha! (Aramaic for ‘Our Lord, come!’ in 1 Corinthians 16:22) I plan to end my posts this year with this word as a reminder to all of us—to keep looking up and be ready whenever He comes.
Joy, peace, love and hope are all over the place at Christmas time. On cards, decorations, hangings, etc. As they should be. But sometimes familiar words get so familiar they bounce right off our ears. I thought I’d go on a search for the most superlative presentation of each of these three gifts in God’s Word.
Joy–You love [Jesus Christ] even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 1 Peter 1:8 (NLT)
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:10-11 (NLT)
Peace–Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears. (John 14:27 REB)
Love–May you have the power to understand…how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. (Ephesians 3:18-19)
Hope—With eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (from Romans 8:19-23 NLT)
“The United Nations Human Development Index 2011 measures happiness in different countries based on factors such as income, education, health, life expectancy, economy, gender equality and sustainability.” Norway, they say, is the happiest country. The US is #4. (Source: CNN Travel website.)
Looking at the website, I don’t see the word “happiness.” That seems to be an inference made by the CNN writer. But assuming the viewpoint that these factors comprise happiness,what’s wrong here? By these standards, Scrooge might have been a happy man, and definitely Bob Cratchit (father of Tiny Tim) would not be. However, the reverse was actually true in that well-loved Christmas tale.
In this scheme, where are the following factors?
sense of purpose & fulfillment
solid loving relationships
a clean conscience
And greatest of all, faith and hope in our Creator and Savior
If you had to choose between the first list (health, wealth, long life) and this second list, which do you think would make you happier? And do the more “developed” countries really have a corner on happiness? Having lived in both, I think not.