Thursday, December 11, 2014

Born to Die

We are in the most celebrated season of the year.
While I love Christmas,  the lights, the glitter, the celebration with family and friends, I know that for those 'on the outside' Christmas can be a time of acute loneliness and pain.
I think we often forget that Jesus Himself came to be on the 'outside' - He was born to suffer and die. As He lay in the cradle, the cross hovered nearby.

We too know that death is a given that we will all one day experience, but we are also called to a 'living' death.  We are called to crucify those things that are of self  so that we can shine forth the love and life of Christ that indwells us.

The devotional for today from a book gifted to me by a friend was very insightful and I share it with you here - food for thought and self examination.
It was written by Thomas Watson who lived from 1620-1686.

Love Crucified 
"I have been crucified with Christ , it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."  Gal. 2:20 NKJV

He who loves God will have nothing to do with sin unless to give battle to it. Sin strikes not only at God's honor but also at His being.
Does he who loves his prince protect a traitor to the Crown?
Is he a friend to God who loves that which God hates?
The love of God and the love of sin cannot dwell together. A man cannot love health and lvoe poison, too. He who allows any secret sin in his heart is as far from loving God as heaven and earth are distant one from the other.

He who is a lover of God is dead to the world. He who is in love with God is not much in love with anything else. The love of God and ardent love of the world are inconsistent. Love  to God swallows up all other love. When a man's heart is raised above the world in the admiring and loving of God, how poor and slender are those things on earth below!

Will God ever bestow heaven upon them who so basely undervalue Him, preferring glittering dust before the glorious Deity? What is there in the earth that we should so set our hearts upon it?  The world has no real intrinsic worth; it is but paint and deception.

Thomas Watson (1620-1686)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Our hands have handled"

my family - daughter, granddaughters and son-in-love

We recently celebrated the wedding of my son in law's sister.  My granddaughters were bridesmaids and my husband took the above photo of our daughter and family.  We have always lived near enough to each other that our close relationship was one we have treasured but also taken for granted.

Now things are about to change.
My  older granddaughter, who graduated from high school this summer and just celebrated her eighteenth birthday has chosen to go to school in Australia and will be leaving in a couple of months.
 I am happy for her to have the experience attending a Christian music school,  but my heart is also painfully aware of what separation from her will feel like.
I was thinking about it the other day and thought how fortunate we were to have so many ways to stay in touch with someone far away - e-mail, Facebook and Skype that allows voice/sight connections.   Yet somehow it didn't feel 'enough' in my emotions and I questioned myself, "Why not?"
The answer came almost immediately -- because as much as our technology offers, it does not allow 'hands on'.    I won't be able to touch her, hug her, kiss her, see her 'face to face'.

And suddenly I had a deeper insight into one of my favourite verses. -
I John 1:1 -  "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled..... "

This verse speaks to relationship with Jesus.
For some people it is only a very vague sense, or none at all, of some historical figure named Jesus.
For some, they have heard of Jesus' and  have some knowledge of His story.
Some have actually 'seen' Him as in recognizing that Jesus was born as a baby and grew up to give Himself in death on a cross to provide forgiveness of sin.
Then some have actually 'looked upon' Him, accepting Him as their personal Saviour so they can go to heaven when they die.
But then, there are those who 'handle Him' - they make Him their 'hands-on' focus on a daily basis. He is their go-to source of wisdom, of comfort, the one they depend on and trust  for guidance and direction. Their fellowship with Him is real and intimate.

None of the progressive levels of awareness of Jesus are enough  until there is the 'hands-on' relationship. Nothing less will satisfy.  Even so the beloved disciple, John, articulated in his letter. He 'handled' the Word. The Word took on flesh, became Jesus, like unto man, and John had the privilege of being so close to Jesus that he could touch Him and love Him and know Him in an intimate way - heart to heart, mind to mind, Spirit to spirit.

I am not satisfied with anything less either.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"And Jesus Stood ..."

Last Sunday, we had as invited guests in our morning church service,
 the veterans of a local Legion,
 who came with the pageantry associated with Remembrance Day. 
What stood out to me and played over and over in my mind was the part of the presentation when someone was instructed to read the names of the Legions' veterans who had died this year. 
The names were called out one by one, and then these words were spoken ..
"They do not answer, they do not answer."  

The words haunted me and in my mind I visualized a very different scenario. 

Every day there are estimated to be as many as 450 Christians who are martyred for their faith. 
Every day!
That is one every three minutes.
Are they forgotten? 

In my mind I see each one as they step over death's threshold into Life. 
Jesus rises to His feet, 
even as He did for the church's first martyr, Stephen, 
and He calls out their name. 
No need to turn to His Father and say ...
'They do not answer."  
For there is a joyous, victorious, answering cry,
 "I am here!" 
before they fall to their knees to worship the one for whom they  died. 

This Sunday* is International Day of Prayer 
for the Persecuted Christians.  
Will we remember those who die for their faith?
 Pray for those are are living in danger today, 
knowing that if they testify of their faith 
it could cost them everything they hold dear in this earthly life?   
Will we remember their families who are left trying to survive without their loved one - 
spouses left to be a single parent in difficult, even impossible situations, 
children who must now grow up without the love and guidance of one or both their  parents. 

We enjoy our freedom in the lap of luxury, how easy it is to forget the privilege that is ours.  
It is not our right, it could one day change and we too called to be faithful  in the face of martyrdom.  
Will someone pray for us ? 

   "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them
—those who are mistreated—
since you yourselves are in the body also." 
Hebrews 13:3

* There are several days in November given as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted church, but the day we pray is not so important as that we remember to pray - every day. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An Error Scan

I was running a software program today,  that searched my computer for errors causing my computer to not run as fast or efficient as it should.
My computer looked fine ... no problem on the outside.  It looks the same as the day I bought it, my monitor screen looks great - so by looking I could not see anything wrong.   Yet, the functions of my computer had become less than satisfying.  My screen would occasional freeze, the 'slowness' of my computer was to the point of being annoying.  I knew that there were errors that needed to be 'fixed'.

As the software searched for and found 'hidden' errors, it then revealed  the errors on my screen where I could see them.  There were many more than I would have guessed!

As I watched , I saw a spiritual lesson.

David said in  Psalm 139:23,24 
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there be any wicked way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting." 

Pro 20:27 says, 
"The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, 
searching all the inward parts of the belly." 

If you read the above verses through the lens of a  computer scanning for errors, you can easily see how the two parallel.

We look good on the outside ... we might think all is well, and we along with others might be totally unaware of what  is 'invisible' deep within our heart.
However, if we invite God to search our inner being, the same way we run an error scan program, God will do it.
As He finds things, He will bring them to our mind's ' monitor screen' where  they are revealed for us to see.

The error scan's purpose was not to just show me what was wrong but also to enable me to fix what was wrong.
In the same way the Holy Spirit does not reveal or convict us of the hidden things of our heart to condemn us but He reveals because He desires  to restore and to heal and to forgive.
After the errors were revealed on my screen, I was shown a button I could click that said 'Fix Now",
God too has given us a way to 'fix' what is wrong in our heart.

Sin repented of is instantly forgiven/deleted, 
guilt can be washed away, 
anxiety/fear can be reprogrammed into love,
 'bugs'  that hinder us from running well can be eliminated, 
 weak links can be made strong, 
a shield can be set up to alert us to a virus (sin/temptation) attack.

"Thank you, Lord, for cleansing my heart, that I might be fit for your use!"