Wednesday, December 26, 2012

All About Bears

One of my Christmas gifts from my three girls (daughter and granddaughters) were these absolutely adorable Bearington Bears.
They came with the message that they are my prayer bears and when I am suffering from an RA (rheumatoid arthritis) flare these bears are to remind me that my girls  are praying for me.  
A very touching gift!  Who wouldn't feel better with such cuddly reminders.

Sometimes I find English a strange language where the same word can be used to refer to completely opposite things.   Like 'bear' and 'bear' -  one is an animal and the other means 'to carry'.

So why does 'bear' have  two such extreme contrasts in meaning?    It actually was how the English words evolved over time.   The Old English words  started off being bera for the animal and the Latin verb for 'to carry' was baran while the adjective for 'made of bear-skin' was beren. In Middle English both words became 'bere' with different pronunciations   From there it was a short step to our usage of the word 'bear' as both animal and the verb 'to carry'.

Rather than a literal physical carrying of some object  we tend  to associate 'to bear' with the figurative meaning of  bearing one another's burdens.

When Moses was overwhelmed with his workload he was given good advice by his father-in-law. His father-in-law advised him to choose men qualified to help him in judging the people's conflicts, problems and complaints. He said..."So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you."  Ex. 18:22
We have a New Testament parallel ..
  "Bear one another burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ." Gal. 6:2.
 What is the law of Christ ?   The law of love!

But abstract understanding must be validated in my life by corresponding actions.
Can my bears teach me something about bearing burdens ?
I think so .....
1.  My bears feel sooo cuddly as they snuggle comfortably into my arms.   To bear someone's burden I too must fit comfortably into someone's need.  They must feel that I understand, that they do not have to be stiff or 'unreal' with me... they can be vulnerable and trust me.
2. My bears are soo soft.   To carry someone's burden I must be 'soft', not harsh or condemning or judgemental.
3. My bears do not offer pat answers, they make no demands.  To bear someone's burden listening is more important than offering advice -  offering my strength, my shoulder, my tears of compassion are more important than 'professional' formulas or prescriptions.
4. My bears are 'present'.   To bear someone's burden I have to be available, I must be where I can be reached when needed!
5. Just looking at my bears warms my heart and puts a smile on my face.   To bear someone's burden I desire to be someone that brings a wave of warmth to someone's chilled heart and let gentleness cause a smile to override tears on someone's face.
6. My bears are beautiful.  To walk alongside someone in compassion, carrying a burden together is indeed a beautiful thing to share -- both in giving and receiving.

I wish for all of us in the new year that we will be both 'burden bearers'  as well as never having to bear our burdens alone!  May we share both our joys to multiply them and our sorrows to divide them!

Wishing you , my dear friend, a very blessed 2013 where God is your center and your Source and His Presence and Love your dwelling place.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stress Points

My most prized 'possession' is my embroidery/sewing machine.  I love what it can do .
I have been making some lace projects for Christmas gifts and I noticed that most designs have a stress point. That is, a weak spot in the design that the needle struggles to move over smoothly.  The needle will  bunch the thread under the presser foot, or tear away the backing or get stuck in one spot.   It is here that the project can be destroyed.
The stress points only show up in the process of working the design and are different in every design.  If I am watching I can prevent my work from being marred or spoiled.  I can stop and restart the needle,  I can add another layer of stabalizer , I can add some finger pressure to help guide the needle over the stress point.   If I have walked away or do not act quickly my project will be ruined.

I was sitting watching the machine work a design, anticipating the stress point coming up and my mind wandered to thinking about how we all have stress points in our life.
Each of us has a unique design of life pattern and in this 'pattern' we also have individual stress points.
For some a stress point may be a character weakness -  a quick temper or impatience.
For others it is a sudden change of plans in a day, or an unexpected delay.
It may be a season of grief or pain or suffering sickness or an accident.
It may be a difficult relationship.
It may be the stress of a holiday, like Christmas, where we can become overwhelmed with the list of things to do and the extra expenses of gifts and celebrations.

It is at these stress points that our day or our life can be disrupted or destroyed.
If we are anticipating and watching, we can prevent any serious damage.
Sometimes we need to add a layer of prayer, sometimes we need to stop and 'listen' and restart with God's Word,  sometimes we need the helping nudge of the Holy Spirit, or His enabling  to get us through the test or difficulty.

As I helped my machine slip over the stress point without a mar in my work, I was so thankful that I have Someone who sits and watches over me , to be ready to help at a time of need, always watching that His work in me will not be spoiled !

  "Now may the God of Peace...  make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."  Heb 13:20a,21

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I listened to the governor of New Jersey on the news one morning addressing the then coming storm called Sandy.
 He  recognized that with all schools being closed, children would be listening to the TV.  So he addressed them directly.   He told them that they didn't need to be afraid, that their parents were with them or their caregivers.  The adults were in control of what needed to be done  to take care of things and the children would be safe and protected.

I thought about the children, that they would be calmed with the assurance that they could trust in the fact that the people who loved them would make sure they were safe.   They could rely on the wisdom and resources of adults making necessary provisions for their well being and protection.

But, much as I wanted the children to feel safe, I thought about how limited the care of the adults really was.  They too were  very vulnerable in the face of a terrible storm that was flooding streets, felling trees and breaking heavy branches, causing  traffic to come to a standstill , closing schools, airports, bridges and shutting off  electrical power, leaving millions of people to cope without it.  

Was the children's trust in parents misplaced ?  No, not in the sense that parents would do all that was in their power to protect and care for their families.    But, the problem is that their power is limited.  They can protect only so far ...  cope with the storm only as far as their resources and ability allowed.  They too are vulnerable - the only difference lies in the degree.

We as the children of our heavenly Father are also told not to worry, not to be afraid, that He will take care of us, keep us from all alarm.    Is the power of our Father limited ?  No.  His resources? No. His willingness or ability?   No.
So, I sometimes wonder...  why is it , that children so naturally and easily trust their 'imperfect' parents implicitly,  while we hold back and tremble even though our 'perfect' heavenly Father promises that all will be well.  

I love Psalm 121 .... I recently memorized it, it is such a wonderful Psalm of promise when storms of nature or life threaten us and unleash their power against our 'nest'.
                I will lift up my eyes unto the hills.  From whence comes MY help ??  
MY help comes from the Lord that made heaven and earth.    
He will not suffer your foot to be moved , he that keeps you will not slumber.  
He that keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  
The Lord is your keeper.  
He is the shade on your right hand.  
The sun shall not smite you by day nor the moon by night. 
The Lord will preserve you from all evil. 
He will preserve your soul.  
The Lord will preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, 
even forever more !     

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Think on THAT!

From Psalm 87  - Think on THAT!

Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God…….
And of Zion it will be said, This one and that one were born in her.
And the Most High Himself shall establish her,
The Lord will record,
When He registers the people …  “This one was born there!”

I dread turning on the morning news  knowing I will only hear more ‘bad’ news.   Another disaster, another accident, another crime, rising gas prices, political unrest, fighting, war ….. 
 It is all so quickly depressing. 

But then I read passages like Psalm 87 where God speaks through the psalmist of something that gives Him great joy!  
The word ending the Psalm is ‘Selah’ , meaning “THINK on THAT!” 

The Psalm is talking about “the City of God”,   which Hebrews 12:22 identifies for us as the heavenly city that is home to those that have been ‘born again’ , becoming citizens of the Eternal City and sons/daughters of God. 
But God’s expressed joy in this Psalm is not focused on the whole city. 
Note the words… “This one”   
God looked down the corridors of time from creation, His eyes sweeping over the multitudes, looking for that ONE and God’s finger joyfully pointed to YOU when He recorded your name and proclaimed to all … “This one was born in her !   
This one belongs to Me, this one is safe!”  
In God’s City there is no bad news… only promises that God will keep! 
Selah !  Think on that !

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Believe You Can !!

I love memorizing scripture.  I love to have it hid in my heart where I can pull it out in the sleepless hours of night or any other time - no matter where I am or what  I am doing.
I do not have a photographic memory, nor do I have what I would call a good memory.
So if  you lack in one area,  you make up for it in another. I have developed aids that trick my memory into holding onto something.

I recently told a friend who does not memorize that I could in one sitting walk her through to where she would be able to recite the 23 Psalm.  She said she would be very surprised if that were true!
Well, she was surprised and I was pleased !   She was able indeed to recite the Psalm and still knew it a few days later.

If you will stay with me through this post I will make the same promise to you!

All you will need is your imagination.   It is a wonderful aid that God has gifted us with. I think it is underdeveloped in most people today because of all the visual technology we have in our everyday life that too often makes our imaginations  unnecessary.

So, are you  ready to accept my challenge ?
It has been proven that what we SEE significantly raises our ability to remember and recall with accuracy, so we are going to turn Psalm 23 into a movie.
Psalm 23 is, I'm sure, familiar to you and you would recognize many lines of it but not many people can recite it with all the 'pieces' in the right order.

First thing to note is that this movie's main character is Jesus !   As the first scene of your movie comes across your mind's screen you are looking at Jesus , standing in a field dressed in a Shepherd's robe.  He is looking at YOU because you are the supporting actor  in your movie.
If Jesus is your Shepherd and you are His 'sheep',  will you suffer want ?   I would think not ...
So here are your first lines ....
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want!"  
What are the two greatest needs of a 'sheep'?   Food and water.
Did you know that a sheep will not eat if it does not feel safe?   nor will it lie down if it feels at all anxious.  Paint a scene of a lush meadow of green grass, the Shepherd near and all is peaceful. You have eaten well of the green pasture and have lain down to rest.
So the next line of your script reads... "He makes me to lie down in green pastures" 
A sheep who has eaten will be thirsty. The Shepherd knows and beckons the sheep to follow Him to the still waters.   Why still?   a sheep will not drink from turbulent or moving water.   Jesus is our Living Water, our Peace.   So He leads His sheep to the still waters to drink.
Next line... "He leads me beside the still waters."  
You drink, turn too quickly and OOPS ! you fall down !  Did you know that if a sheep falls on its back it cannot get back up unless someone helps it ?  A Shepherd would be quick to see a sheep that has fallen... one that is troubled, anxious and upset and He restores it again -- sets it back on its feet.
The next line ... "He restores my soul."  uses the Hebrew language that refers to this action of the Shepherd  picking up His helpless sheep.
Now, the Shepherd has set you back on your feet,  and you are ready to walk.   He leads the way and you follow.  Can you trust the paths the Shepherd will lead you on will be good paths? righteous paths?   of course!  Why ??  Because He Himself is Righteous!
"He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name sake." 
The mountain paths are beautiful leading through cool treed forests and open spaces ....  but then !  the path takes a sudden turn and you gasp !   You are looking down into a dark valley, that sends chills of fear through your body!  But your eyes turn to your Shepherd, He looks deep into your heart and you know !!!  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil , for You are with me !!" 
You see in the Shepherd's hand His rod and His staff.... Sometimes the Shepherd knows you need discipline, sometimes testing, sometimes rescuing/protection, sometimes healing -- all come through His rod and His staff and often they are used in the valley. Your movie's next line ....
"Your rod and your staff they comfort me !"  
So you follow close behind your Shepherd as the path winds down into the valley where you see your enemies lurking , waiting , hoping that they can lure you into their traps.   But you keep your eyes averted and look to see what your Shepherd is doing.
You are now at the bottom of the valley and you watch in amazement as your Shepherd busies Himself with something --  You soon see what He is doing !  You are surprised and pleased !
"You prepare a table before me in the midst of my enemies !"  
 He seats you at the table with a smile and pours the oil of His Spirit over your head.   Your enemies can do nothing, except watch helpless from the fringes of the valley.    Then the Shepherd pours His blessings into your cup -- not just until it is full ... but keeps pouring even though  it is overflowing !
"You anoint my head with oil, My cup runs over !"
You are overcome with love, devotion and praise for the Shepherd who loves you so !  and you rejoice with the realization that ... ."Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life !"   
and that's not all !!
"and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever !"    

Run through the movie again in your head and see if you remember the lines of your script.
Let me know your personal review of your movie !

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Amazing God

I believe that many of the things Jesus said would define our world at the time of the end are certainly easily noted today.  
I don't know how much longer this earth will stand, but we know that one day,  Jesus will return in all His glory !  
Before He comes, I know that His desire is to save all who can be saved and He will reach out in every way possible to every man, woman and child!

Several years ago what I knew about Muslims could maybe have been stretched to fill a paragraph or two, but as we have been forced to acknowledge them more and more in our world view, so  has my knowledge, and happily also my understanding of them, changed and grown.

I have read more than a few books on the Middle East and specifically concerning  Muslims and their world.  I have read many  books written from a variety of  view points,  but I recently read two books that stand out as my current favourites.

I highly recommend them as 'must read books' for every believer.

One of them is called The Land of the Blue Burqa by Kate McCord (pseudonymous for protection)   The author lived for over 5 years in and among Muslims in Afghanistan to 'help them'.    She did not go with a government funded and protected organization  but under  a privately supported ministry.

Her story is sooo unique.  Not only does she give you an inside look of what it means to be a Muslim doing every life but she is an incredibly gifted writer in word and expression.   The reader is drawn alongside her and is an invisible guest listening to her conversations and thoughts, seeing through her insightful eyes.
Not only did I learn a great deal about Muslims and my heart warmed toward them but I also gained a new perspective on my own faith, why I believe what I believe and how best to share it with others.  

God is moving among Muslims.   Perhaps we, as a commissioned church, have failed to reach them and God is going Himself.   The stories we first started hearing a few years ago seemed incredible and we believed them to be unusual and rare occurrences    But those stories have become a flood and what God is doing can no longer be ignored or denied.
Jesus  is appearing to thousands of Muslims in dreams and visions declaring who He is and that He loves them.   Imams , terrorists, men/women,  Muslims from all walks of life -- God is no respecter of persons - He is appearing to them often and to many more than once.  

Visions and Dreams: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World  by Tom Doyle, Greg Webster,   is a  book that records stories personally known to and verified by the authors.  
Not only did the stories amaze and move me , but I also appreciated the information given to help the reader understand more precisely what the Middle East is all about.  
The book also is rare in how incredibly well it is written, its literary level reaches perfection and yet it is a very enjoyable book to read - easy to follow and understand.  
If you want your world view to be shattered and challenged and have your awe of God magnified , spend some time reading this book !   I know you will be glad you did !

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Dispelling of Shame

One day , long , long ago, a baby was born.
The baby’s birth was celebrated as only the birth of a King’s son can be.
Loving arms and affluence withheld nothing needful or desired for the baby.
His name? Mephibosheth.
A difficult name to pronounce was perhaps the first indication that an easy life was not to be for this dear child.
His loving father , however, hid hope in the meaning of the name he bestowed upon his son - ‘dispeller of shame’.
It was because of  the child’s grandfather, Saul, that the events unfolded that changed the course of his life, bringing shame upon him. 
The child was only five years old when disaster struck the house of King Saul.
When news that the battle had taken the lives of both King Saul and Mephibosheth’s father  came to the palace,  panic ensued. Fear spread like flames of fire and everyone fled for their life.
The young child’s nurse could not bear to leave her charge behind and snatched him up to carry him with her. In her frantic hurry, she stumbled and dropped him .  Mephibosheth's  legs were injured , leaving him permanently crippled.

We hear nothing more of this boy through the rest of his childhood and into his adult life until years later.
One day Mephiboseth had a visitor. Not someone he knew but a stranger, who demanded that Mephiboseth immediately accompany him. The King was demanding that he be brought to the palace to appear before him.
Mephiboseth was terrified. He knew the stories of how wickedly his grandfather had treated David and tried many times to take his life. Now David was king and obviously wanting to even the score. Take his just revenge!
Trembling , he was led to the throne of King David and there fell on his face before him in pleading tones offering himself as a willing servant!
Imagine how his trembling fear turned to disbelief - when he heard the words…. “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for Jonathan , your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather ….. “ and best of all, the words …… “You shall eat bread at my table continually!”
Mephibosheth, having lived with shame all his life was unable to grasp the ‘dispelling’ of it … and questioned … “Why ? why would you do this… why even look at a dead dog such as I?”
But it was true, the King’s blessings were poured upon Mephiboseth. He was treated as one of the King’s sons, sharing the King’s table for the rest of his life. (II Sam. 4, II Sam. 9)
This story is such a beautiful picture of us , isn’t it ?
Each of us fell through Adam and Eve and were crippled under the shame of sin, fearful of the judgment we deserved.
Yet, we are called by God, chosen by Him … for the sake of His Son … exchanging our shame for His righteousness.
He calls us His sons/daughters and invites us to eat at His table forever !
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God….” I John 3:1
“... That you may eat eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom …” Luke 22:30

Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Author Rewrites

I had a very strange experience recently.
I have a Kindle and I LOVE my Kindle  -- it allows me to indulge in what has always been my favourite way to spend time -- lost in a book !

We were going away and so I downloaded a couple of new books to ensure I would have something to read.
Kindle in hand, I  opened one of them  as soon as I settled in the car.  My eyes moved over  the first paragraph and I was immediately puzzled realizing it was word for word a book I had read  a short time previously !  But the title was different and Kindle had not alerted me to the fact that it was a previously downloaded book !

I did a bit of digging and found out that yes, there were two books exactly word for word identical - by the same author EXCEPT for the last few pages.
The  book was a fictionalized story based on real events and characters of the American Civil War. The first book  ended with a tear jerking scene where the 'hero' dies in the arms of his bride - two days after their wedding.
Obviously,  at some point the author must have repented of that scene and decided to republish the book, under a new name and changing the last several pages to a 'happily ever after' ending.  

I had never heard of an author doing that -- since most often an author will acknowledge that the 'story' had a life of its own and the way it turns out cannot be changed any more than we can go back and rewrite our own life.

As I was considering what the author had done .... I was reminded that there was another Author who rewrote the ending to a story.
The Author I am referring to, of course, is God.
The way the story was first written, it ended with man lost in sin and death with no recourse or avenue of escape.    But God could not bear His story of man having a tragic ending and He re-wrote the story, overruling man's actions and self-destiny by providing the re-write salvation plan  that ends with man living joyfully in the Presence of God on a New Earth, forever  -- the only real-life 'happily ever after' !!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Difference Between Law and Faith

In looking through my many photos I had to look a lot longer to find a photo of a grey sky than I did a blue one. Obviously, because a blue sky is much more inviting to use my camera to record memorable moments.
It is true, is it not,  that when we look up to see a grey sky our emotions plummet and we feel the heaviness of a gloomy day.   In contrast the blue sky lifts our spirits and we face our day with joy and gladness.

We all know people who come into our day as a 'cloudy sky' and some who come like a 'blue sky' of sunshine.
The cloudy day friend is one who is quick to point out faults , failings, things that are wrong - finding any reason to criticize and burden.
The blue sky friend is one who comes with praise and encouragement, quick to find the things that are good and finds every reason to be thankful and rejoice.

The law is like a cloudy day friend. It focuses on  our weaknesses, our sin, our failings ... pressing us down with a long list of 'don'ts'.   No matter how hard we try,  the list just grows.

Faith, on the other hand, is like the sunny day friend.   Faith looks for what is praiseworthy. It inspires us to do  righteousness  that fills us with joy and confidence  to look into the face of our Father.

 These thoughts were inspired by my reading  Romans 3:19,20,21 the other day and I saw it in a light I had not noticed before.
Verses 19,20 tell us that it is the law that came  to point out our 'sin'  .. to make us guilty before God.  The law focuses us on our failings , the things we do that are not pleasing to God.
In trying to obey the law, the only conclusion we come to is that we hopelessly fail..
What a cloudy sky hangs over those who try to live by the law.

But then verse 21 declares the sunny sky of faith !   Faith focuses us on living, not by the list of law 'don'ts'  but by a  list of 'do's'.
Instead of the law revealing sin, faith reveals the righteousness of God..
Where the law condemns, faith lifts up righteousness!
Faith has only one focus -  LOVE... walk in love and  we cannot fail, we cannot do otherwise than be righteous before God because God is love, and if we love we are like Him.
Without faith it is impossible to please God ... (Heb. 11:6),   He that loves his brother will have no reason to sin . ( I John 2:10)  Trusting in God to guide us in our walk by faith is like having a built-in GPS, instead of  a handbook listing the pitfalls and dangers along the way. Faith allows us to enjoy the scenery and fellowship along the journey!  
Faith lifts us up to feel like we can do all things through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:13) in whom our trust is focused.

I'm so thankful that God knew we could never attain righteousness through keeping the law , and gave us the New Covenant of grace that gives us the victory and by faith in Him makes us to stand righteous before Him!
I love blue skies, don't you ?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

   I came across this youtube video of a clever little squirrel who worked his way through  difficult obstacles  to get to his goal.  One obstacle at a time was added over a period of weeks allowing the squirrel to master each one until he could run through the course with ease.

I watched the squirrel, so sure and nimble on his feet, never faltering or showing fear having but one thing in his mind - the reward at the end.
A quote from the apostle Paul came to my mind ...  
"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ  Jesus."   Php 3:14  

Are we so undeterred by the obstacles of life that we never lose sight of the goal ?
Are our eyes so on Jesus that we, like the squirrel, meet the challenges of life with  singleness of mind?
Are we overcomers, running the race of  life with only the end goal in mind?
Do we see every circumstance as yet another opportunity to bring us closer to that goal?

"Thank you, Lord, for the life lesson your little creature teaches us.  May we be as singleminded as he, even delighting in using whatever we face in life as a 'bridge'  to bring us closer to our goal.  May we all attain the prize of the high calling you have placed before us."  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

God's Design

 My husband and I attended a concert tonight, the first performance of the touring Kyiv Symphony and chorus in Canada. Not only was it an excellent concert, it was also  a moving concert, particularly for my husband, who was born in the Ukraine and remembers his early childhood years there.

In the city of Kyiv (or Kiev, the old spelling of the city) is an old historical prison - Lukyanivska Prison.  Here is a photo of the prison as it looked in 1900, about 45 years after it was built.


My husband's grandfather, Heinrich Epp,  was arrested on false charges and was incarcerated  in this very prison.  Because of malnutrition and typhus,  he died there on Christmas Eve,1921.   He was found the next morning, on his knees with his open bible before him.   My husband has that bible.

My husband was deeply stirred listening to the choir and orchestra,  wondering what his grandfather would have thought if someone had come to him as he suffered at the hands of  the prison guards, and told him that 91 years later an orchestra and choir would travel from Kyiv to Canada where his grandson would be blessed by their musical performance giving glory to God.

Only God could bring such a thing to pass -  that the descendants of  people on opposite sides of terror and inflicted torment could worship God together, sharing God's love as His children.

Mennonites were known for their pacifist beliefs, and I know that those who suffered prayed as Christ commanded ...
Mat 5:44  "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." 

Someone once said that the best way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend.   Only God knows the prayers of those that were persecuted,  that laid the foundation for the souls being saved in Ukraine today.
Perhaps my husband's grandfather's prayers almost 100 years ago were answered in the concert tonight.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Von Der Erde Reiss Mich Los -- Part 2

During the time I was watching the eagles ready to leave their nest,  we were experiencing quite drastic flood levels in our local rivers  resulting from a greater than normal mountain snow melt.
We watched the rising rivers amazed at how much water overflowed their banks.
Places that were once able to be waded across were many feet deep, the water rushing into white capped waves carrying with them large trees that had been swept into the river.

I stood one day gazing at the wide expanse of the now swollen river , ever widening in depth and width and I thought about the scriptures in Ezekiel that talk about a river.
Ezekiel's river is a 'spiritual' river that flows out from under the Temple of God.
The Angel Guide explaining things to Ezekiel, drew Ezekiel alongside  to walk into the river with him to measure its depth.
First Ezekiel is brought to the depth of his ankles , then  deeper where the water is  waist deep.  Then he is led deeper still where the water is too deep to cross -- he must swim or drown.  

I spoke in my last post about how we love to keep our feet on this earth where things are secure and familiar. It is hard to 'lift ourselves' out of our comfort zone and trust something that we have no experience with or something that we cannot touch or see , cannot understand or know the final outcome.

As I stood looking at our swollen river with Ezekiel's river experience in mind ... I saw that  the eagles  and Ezekiel's river were really speaking to the same thing  -  our needing to pull ourselves away from trusting in earthly things.

We will all quite readily wade into a river ankle deep ..  That still allows us to keep our feet quite firmly on the solid river bed.  
Most people are quite happy with 'ankle-deep' spirituality .  That allows them to believe in God , turn to Him when they need Him, leaving the rest of the time free to enjoy life on their own terms. It feels like the best of two worlds, leaving them in control of their life.

Some people have a deeper desire for God ... and they wade into God's river to where it is  waist deep. Now they begin to experience the buoyancy of the water  -- their feet not quite so firmly planted on the river bed.
Their faith in God is beginning to lift them up  from this earth ... their thoughts turn more often to Him and they consider His will, His desires before they make major decisions in their life.   But there is a reluctance to leave completely the things of this earth that they value and hesitate to give up.  They prefer to understand God's will before they follow, allowing their own reason to over rule when the cost or the risk seems too high.

But then there are some who dare to walk into the river where they can no longer walk.. their feet no longer able to keep hold on the earth ...   they abandon themselves completely to the 'water'  ...  and let the Spirit bear them up ...  Now they are floating.
When I learned to swim as an adult , I remember how hard it was to 'float' on the water -  to 'let go' and have faith the water would hold me up .   I remember I could hold it only for so long and then I would tense, doubt causing me to 'sink'.
That is what real 'faith in God' is, isn't it ?   It is when we so abandon ourselves to the 'water' of the Spirit that we are completely lifted up from the things of this earth ...only the things of God matter in any moment of the day ... consideration of His will,  obedience to His word is at the fore of our minds, love for Him filling our hearts.
The chorus of one of my favorite songs comes to mind ...
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, 
Look full in His wonderful face, 
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, 
In the light of His glory and grace.  

Its soo much easier to 'look up'  isn't it , when you are floating on your back - resting on the water ?   But that is also a vulnerable position - our doubt so easily causes us to 'sink'.  
When our faith is strong we know that we are so safe , so completely secure 'floating on the river of the Spirit' .   We are no longer guided by the wisdom of this earth, nor moved by the things that would 'worry'  us ..  Nothing but the Kingdom of God is important to us.   Our love for God is lost in His love for us and truly .. "the things of earth grow strangely dim".

 Water will 'hold up' anyone trusting its law of buoyancy, so also God can be trusted to hold up anyone trusting in His 'buoyancy' of power and wisdom and love.   Our faith in Him is so precious to Him that He will never allow anyone to 'sink' whose faith is put in Him.
1Pe 1:7  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Von der Erde Reiss Mich Los (part one)

A long forgotten line from a hymn buried in my childhood was summoned from the depths of my memory recently. 
For the line...   Von der Erde Reiss Mich Los ...  if a word for word translation were given it would be .. "From the earth tear me loose"   

This spring I have been watching the eagle nest in Iowa via web cam.    I watched the  eggs laid, then the eaglets hatch into tiny balls of fluff. Over the next weeks they grew rapidly to be bigger than the parent birds.  
As they grew to adult size I was amused to watch their antics. Using their large nest as a trampoline they would spread their wings and jump into the air.  At first their feet barely left the nest, but with practice they lifted higher and higher able to hold themselves for a few seconds in the air.
Then came the day when they ventured out onto the strong tree limbs supporting their nest.  I recognized that they were ready to leave the nest so every day I watched, expecting it to be the day the nest would be permanently vacated. 

To my surprise it didn't happen that way.  Even though the eagles could now fly from limb to limb in the tree, they would return to the nest -- to eat , to sleep, to rest. The parents humoured them, still offering meal delivery to the nest.  
As I watched I WISHED I could just reach out and throw them up against the blue sky and WILL them to fly high above the limitations of the nest they seemed so reluctant to leave.   Did the blue sky above them not beckon them to the freedom that was their birth right?  

As I observed them, I realized that they mimicked our own spiritual reality .   
Just as the eagles clung to the only 'home' they knew , limited though it was .. so we also cling to this earth, the only 'home' we know.  
Oh yes.. as we mature we become aware of our 'spiritual' side... and using this earth as a trampoline we flap our spiritual wings and feel ourselves lifted from the things of this earth.  But how temporary that is before we once again land on this earth, comfortable with the things that we know.   
With practice we may even spiritually 'fly', enjoying our spiritual highs, our mountain top experiences. We joyfully leave our earthly nest for a time to  sit in heavenly places.  But again, it is only for a moment. How quickly our faith weakens and we return to earthly things for our sustenance.   It is just so much easier to keep our feet grounded on  the understanding that this 'home'  earth offers, we prefer to 'live' according to  the thinking of the world that we know so well.    
Our faith just isn't strong enough to leave this earthly nest completely.  

I watched as  the eagles sojourned in their nest  for a season, then observed how reluctant they were to leave their nest to spread their wings  soaring  high in the heavens, reaching for the sky that has no limits.  
So we too for an earthly season are bound by physical reality. We cling to the earth 'built' by God specifically suited to our needs and comforts. 
But I see that too often our mind set is much like the eagles.  The pull of this earth is stronger than the pull of the blue sky of eternity to come. 
Instead of yearning for our eternal destiny we put it off for as long as we can, clinging to the earthly things we hold dear. 

May the refrain of this ancient song be the prayer of our hearts...  

Von der erde reiss mich los,               From the earth tear me away,
Mache  meinen glauben gross,           Make my faith big, 
Bit mire einen treunen sinn,                May I faithful and true in spirit be.
Nimm mich ganz mein JESU hin.        My Jesus, take me, make me wholly yours!.
       (Author; Luise von Hayn,1724-1782)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Creative Witness

I was reading Habakkuk 2 this morning and was struck by one of the verses that reminded me of an experience my granddaughter shared with me.

The verse is Habakkuk 2:14 which says.."For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."   

What part of the sea is not covered with water ?  It is not even a question, is it...there is no place the water does not cover!  It flows to the lowest places and spreads as far as the sea reaches.
I thought of the fact that  as I pray for loved ones that do not yet know the Lord, I often pray that God will use whatever He can to bring Himself into their thoughts or awareness.

How creative God can be in His reaching out into people's lives was brought home to me by the following story told to me by my granddaughter.

My granddaughter and her friend were enjoying time together at a local lake, sitting on the pier as they conversed one with another.
The friend was recently baptised, having given her life to the Lord.  My granddaughter told me how much she had changed. Although she no longer did drugs nor kept company with her old friends who did, they still sought her out begging her to hang out with them.

As they sat on the pier, two of these friends happened by and greeted their old friend saying, "Let's hang out together!"   Without waiting for an invitation, the two girls joined my granddaughter and her friend on the pier.  They pulled out their drugs and started smoking them.  My granddaughter's friend said, "Let's just leave", and they walked away.
A short distance later, my granddaughter realized she had left her cell phone on the pier.  Her friend said .. "No, I don't want to go back!"   and on impulse took out her own cell phone and said... "Here, let me call your cell to see if it really is still on the pier."
My granddaughter's friend's name is Christa and my granddaughter shows her as Christ on her cell display, purposely having left off the 'a'.
No one answered the cell and the girls reluctantly went back to the pier to  retrieve the cell.    Approaching the spot where the two girls were still smoking pot, they noted that one of them had the cell phone in her hand looking at it .  Looking up at my granddaughter and her friend she said, "Is this your phone ??  It says that Christ is calling!"
My granddaughter and her friend immediately confirmed .. "Yes, that is soo true !! Christ really IS calling YOU!"  

I wonder if that young girl had a grandmother who was concerned for her granddaughter and praying for God's influence to be brought across her path.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lessons of the Spider Web

I came across an interesting verse in the book of Job the other day that has a reference to spiders' webs.
"So are the paths of all who forget God ...... whose trust is a spider's web. He leans on his house but it does not stand..."  Job 8:13a,14b,15a

Who would choose to lean on a spider's web for support ?   Only someone who is foolish, surely!
Yet, God says that those who lean on anything other than Him are leaning on spider's webs.
Trusting in this world's wisdom,  believing its promises of fortune or fame will give no more security than leaning on a spider's web to keep from falling.
God tells us .. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;" Prov. 3:5 

And yet, even though scripture mocks our trusting in the 'spider web' promises of man's reason or resources, God has build into the spider web wisdom that scientists are only today beginning to fully appreciate as they grapple with aspects of the web that  defy their understanding.

God has hidden in the details of a spider's web,  His creative encouragement that we might trust His promises with the full confidence of  heart and mind !

1.  The beauty of the spider's web ---   Who has not admired a spider's web and wondered at the spider's ability to weave with such accuracy the lacy pattern of his web.
If a tiny spider can weave a perfect web, could we not trust God to weave our life into the  pattern of His perfect will and design for us ?
Jer 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." 

2. The strength of the spider's thread -- Weight for weight a spider's thread is up to 5x as strong as steel.
How weak we often feel as we are confronted by the confident, loud voices of this world. We know that in our own strength we are no match for what man or devil can bring against us, and yet -- what does God promise ?   Even though we look and feel like a fragile spider's thread, God's strength is perfected in us as we lean on Him in our weakness.
2Co 12:9  "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."  

3. The spider's web can withstand great testing -   A spider's web can withstand hurricane-strength winds. It's thread stretches to 40% before it breaks. Compare that to steel that breaks at 8% and the nylon used in our stockings that breaks when stretched to 20%.
If God  created this resilience in a spider's web can God not build in us an ability to withstand all temptation that comes against us ?
1Co 10:13  "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."   

4. The spider's web is designed to adapt to bearing different types of loads -    Unlike any other natural or man made material the silk threads in the spider's web have an ability to soften or stiffen uniquely enabling them to adjust to  the varying weights of things  that might fall upon it.
We all have 'loads'  or burdens that we must carry and sometimes we feel that we will be crushed under the weight of our burden.  And yet we can trust that God has enabled us to carry not only our own 'load' but also to relieve one another and help to carry their burdens.
Gal. 6:2a,5 "Bear one another's burdens..... For each one shall bear his own load."

5. Timing is everything --   The spider secretes a substance called scleroprotein from which it spins its silk threads. The spider controls the water content of this gel to keep it from crystallizing before it is ready to spin.  If the protein crystallizes too soon the whole process would fail.
How often we become impatient or frustrated as we wait for God to answer our prayers.  And yet, timing is everything -  if God answered prayers according to 'our time'  how often would His purposes fail !  So we can trust that even when God's answers seem delayed, the delay is simply God waiting for the perfect 'time'.
Ecc 3:1  "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" 

6. A broken thread strengthens the web -  The spider's web has an unusual property that is intriguing scientists  designing earthquake proof buildings. When one of the threads of a web breaks, the web instead of being weakened is actually strengthened !   And even if there are many defects in the web its mechanical function is unharmed.
How often circumstances beyond our control cause hurt and turmoil, discouragement and despair in our life- and we wonder how God can cause good to come or how He can use us where we find ourselves in our brokenness.   And yet, what does God promise?  He promises that He will work even the difficult things of our life for good.
Rom 8:28  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

7. The spider web's proteins are salted  
The proteins in the substance that spins out the silk threads are salted to protect the web from the decay caused by bacteria and fungi.
Bacteria and fungi -- the sins that 'decay' our life.   Are we protected ?   Yes...  God's Spirit in us 'salts' us with conviction and forgiveness --  we need but ask!
 1Jn 1:9  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 

Perhaps next time you observe a spider's web... stop a moment and consider the wisdom God hid in its threads and listen for His voice whispering "Trust Me!"

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I love sweet peas - the fragrance and beauty of the flowers delight me.   On an impulse I bought a package of sweet pea seed and planted them in an egg carton hoping to give them a start before I plant them outside.
The problem is that I am a terrible gardener.
I think my biggest problem is that if I plant flower seeds today, I would like to put them in a vase tomorrow.
It just doesn't happen that way, does it.
It is sometimes a long while before you are able to enjoy what the seeds produce.
One thing I can count on, the seeds will produce according to their kind.

I read a quote today by John Stott that I found quite thought provoking.

"Every time we allow our minds to harbour a grudge, 
or nurse grievances, 
or entertain impure thoughts,
or wallow in self pity,   we are sowing to the flesh."   

We have the list of the crops attributed to the flesh in Gal. 5:19-21 - adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy , murders, drunkenness, revelries... and the like...

Horrors !  Who would willingly plant the seeds that produce those crops ??
It would be like someone purposely sowing the worst, most invasions weeds in their garden !   No one would be THAT foolish, would they ?

I thought about how easy it is to plant the seeds of sin  but because it takes time before the seeds grow into a mature plant we forget we planted them. Then too seeds are such very tiny things, are they not?  Hardly big enough to worry about, nor do they in the least resemble what they will grow to be!  

Who is not guilty at times, of sowing the seeds that John Stott listed?
I am going to be more aware of what I can expect to grow next time I am tempted to hold a grudge, entertain that negative thought, or feel sorry for myself.    And if I allow one of these seeds to sprout, I pray I will pull them out quickly and spray them with 'weed control' -- Repentance!

I will be more careful to sow Philippians 4:8  seeds in my mind garden .. and water them with prayer and fertilize them with love.
  "Finally... whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on (plant)  these things."

 Philippians seed will produce a fragrant and beautiful  'garden' that glorifies the Lord and  offers a resting place for others.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Is "No Law" Lawlessness?

                                                      (student doing homework by the river)

I am reading an interesting autobiography by Asa Mahan who lived from 1799-1889.
For 30 years he was president of American colleges and was the first President of Oberlin College.
He was a very intelligent man and a deep thinker who had some very interesting insights that affected how he ruled in his position of authority.

He tells how very strictly the colleges of his day were ruled by protocol.  From the President down to the lowly Freshman every 'caste' division had to be recognized by every one giving first place honor as to seating or greeting to any member of a 'caste' above them.
Also the colleges were governed by a long list of 'rules' and regulations strictly enforced and students monitored.
Mahan, as a young man entering college , was handed a paper itemizing the long list of rules.  He said he never read to the end of the list, yet graduated as one recognized for never having violated the college rules.
Mahan was always perplexed and concerned about the disregard for the rules by the college students and the violence/bullying between the 'castes', the hazing and every attempt made to get away with breaking a rule.

After 15 years of holding the President position in various colleges he he began to wonder what would happen if he did something never tried before -- something very radical and unconventional.  He decided to conduct an experiment to test his theory.

He was president of Oberlin college for 15 years.  The first year the school opened,  in his first President address to the student body he spoke to them about how every one of them knew what was right to do , what the correct conduct in a given situation was, how to behave one to another and how to be respectful of authority.
Therefore he said, there would be no official list of rules.  Each student would be expected to live by his own conscience ,  ruled by his inner knowing of right and wrong.  Accountability, responsibility would be what each student held  himself to personally.

Mahan's theory proved to be right.   When there was a list of rules to focus on governing behavior, the student's attention was on  how to circumvent or break those laws and see how much they could get away with.
When instead the President put them on a self-honor system every student found in himself a desire to live up to the trust and expectation of their President.
Mahan said that the behavior was exemplary in every student , except for two of the youngest boys who finally decided that since no one had been punished all year for mis-behavior obviously there was no punishment.  So they tested the system, getting into a fight.   Mahan grabbed each of them by the scruff of their neck and applied the discipline needed.   There was no further trouble.  

I thought about this example of college rule and I realized how the insight Mahan had as President was really patterned after the wisdom of God - insight God had from the very beginning.

The Old Testament law was the college list of do's and don'ts.  As it says in Gal 3:24  "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster ...."    The law was to teach us to understand right from wrong and instill in us the discipline and yearning to live righteously.   But the law could only go so far... it could not do what God's desire was for us.
God's goal for man is stated in the second half of Gal. 3:4 "to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
If the law could not justify us , what could ?

God gave man the 'law'  to train man's conscience but the law encourages man to focus on finding the technical loopholes and the minimum requirement.   By the time Jesus came the Jewish leaders had so added to God's commandments they were trying to enforce a  list of over 600 laws.   The people were discouraged.
No matter how hard someone tries to keep a 'list' of rules, it is only a matter of time before one or more are violated or overlooked.
So God brought out His 'honor system' .  The New Covenant.
Jesus cleared away the sin question, by His own sacrifice providing the payment due so man could find 'free' forgiveness.  Free simply by sincerely desiring it and a willingness to 'sin no more'.

God says of His New Covenant -  "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, (after the Old Covenant)  saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."  Jer. 31:33

God said, "I have put my law into your hearts/consciences to  know  what is right and what is wrong ...  I give you now only one covering 'law'   - the law of love.  "If you love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself" (Luke 10:27) you will  in everything you do be pleasing before Me.   There is no 'sin' possible under the law of love.  "He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him". I Jn. 2:10

But just like the little boys who thought that they could do as they pleased since there was no 'list' so also believers are held to a higher standard.  Living by the law of love means a 24/7 lifestyle of an obedient heart.

May we agree with Paul's prayer ... "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:"  I Th. 3:12
When  one day we stand before our Lord on 'graduation day' , may we be found  perfect in His righteousness, having walked in obedience to the commandments of God because we loved God and truly loved each other.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Not the Whole Picture

(little moth sitting on our kids' front door the other morning... waiting to be featured in this post... smile)

All good guesses in yesterday's comments but CB was VERY close in her guess as to what yesterday's photo was - it was indeed part of a moth - not its wing but its body.
Above is the photo from which I blew up the one little part. It is quite easy to pick out that part, isn't it ? The skeleton face ?

It is humbling sometimes to realize how much difficulty we have in discerning the whole from a part - even when we know it is only a part.

I think there is a good spiritual analogy that can be derived from this fact .

1. Wrong Conclusions
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the ways of death.
Seeing only the part and not the whole causes us to draw wrong conclusions.
So often we look at something in our life, a tragedy, a situation, or a problem, and we cannot figure it out -- we cannot understand it or make sense of it.
We do not recognize that it is a blown up piece of the whole picture.
We judge as though it were the whole and consequently proclaim it to be what it is not. Then we act upon our false assumptions and end up frustrated and angry with the results.
We feel anxious or bitter , blame anyone else involved and even become upset with God.

How differently we would evaluate a 'piece' of our life if we could just see the whole picture. But only God sees the whole picture and He most often with holds that from us.
Does having only a piece not make us choose whether or not we will trust Him? And is it not also a 'fence' to keep us dependent on God wherein lies our security?

Pro 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.

2. Focusing on the Part can Render us Powerless
Focusing on a 'piece' of a life portrait can fill us with such fear, or worry it leaves us paralysed - unable to discern or even think clearly. All we can think of is how to escape it.
I showed a friend the blown up photo of the moth piece and asked her what she saw. She said what she saw was rotting flesh that so repulsed her she couldn't even look at it.
I asked her if she didn't see a 'face'. Even after suggesting to her there was a face she could not see it. All she saw was rotting flesh.
Grabbing a pencil I sketched a quick pencil drawing of the 'skeleton face' and showed it to her.
She giggled and responded that the pencil drawing looked funny. She was then able to see the face in the photo with an easing of her emotional repulsion looking at the photo.

Sometimes a situation or tragedy is so horrific to us that we feel only extreme fear or repulsion. We can see no way to deal with it -- all we want is to escape - to run as fast and as far as we can. We can so no answer, no solution -- and it is impossible to hear God for the 'noise' of our emotions.
Then we need someone to come alongside in compassion, listen to our fear and quietly show us a 'pencil drawing' to help us see without the panic. When we become quiet we can then hear God's voice in our agony and feel His comforting peace and presence in the midst of chaos.

I Cor. 13:12 "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."
Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

3. The Gift of Wisdom
Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees. We are too emotionally and physically overwhelmed with our situation to be able to see beyond the 'piece' to discern its place in the whole - or even to believe that it could have a God-intended purpose or end.
But God will bring people alongside who are able to see what we do not see.
Just as CB recognized that the 'piece' was part of a moth when others missed it, so also people can speak into our life and help us see that there is a bigger picture that God sees and knows.
CB did not have the 'perfect' total picture , so also we will never have the perfect picture as God sees it but we have God's Word and His Spirit to give us the spiritual insight and wisdom we need to face any situation and to understand the God that allowed it into our life.

Jas 3:13 "Who is wise and understanding among you?Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom."
1Th 5:11 "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another....."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What is it ?

Looking at the above photo what do you see? What do you think it is ?
Answer tomorrow ! (with a fitting analogy)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why is Death the Punishment for Sin?

“ For I am the LORD, I change not; …...” Malachi 3:6

God, as the Creator of all we know has the sovereign right to establish His own standard of right and wrong and system of justice.
It is interesting when we look at our world we see how inescapable is the standard God set forth from the time of creation. How closely a civilization builds its justice system on God’s justice system directly determines what kind of society it is.
His ten commandments are even today a bedrock of right and wrong in a courtroom or in everyday life.
God is a God who does not change - and neither does His standard of justice.

When God was giving the ‘law’ to Moses He established the justice system of retribution for wrongs. In whatever way a man was ‘harmed’ by another, there needed to be a restitution or price paid in ‘kind’ . In Lev. 24 we are told …. animal for animal , eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, etc.
Life for Life ... "And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot". Duet. 19:21
Like for Like was the only ‘restoration to wholeness’ that was lawfully right.

For example, if I give someone a valued piece of pottery and ask them to guard it well and they through carelessness chip it, there is only one way that they can make it right. For them to return to me the chipped pottery does not ‘restore’ or pay for the damage. The only thing that will make it right would be for them to find a ‘perfect same as’ piece of pottery and return the undamaged one to me. It must be the ‘perfect like’ in place of the broken/damaged one.

Before God created the earth and all that is in it, there was only the perfection of God’s heaven. Not only was God perfect, but all that was around him was also perfect. Nothing but indescribable beauty surrounded Him and filled His heaven, including the angels who served Him. Not least of which was the most beautiful of them all , Lucifer, the angel leading heavenly worship.
But then, Lucifer, became proud and in becoming proud, entertained arrogant thoughts of being like God in ruling by his own desires and over a domain of his own. He persuaded one third of God’s angels to follow him in his rebellion.
God, of course, could allow no such thing -- it was open rebellion in His face. Lucifer and his followers were banished from their estates and forever condemned in their sin.
We know God as a forgiving, merciful God .. Why did He not find a way to forgive Lucifer and the angels who followed him ?

Remember God’s ‘like for like’ law of justice ?
What had been ‘damaged’ / ‘misused’ by Lucifer ? Was it not the ‘life’ that God had given him ? God is the Source , the Being from which ALL life originates, flows and is given. All life belongs to Him. As it says in Job 33:4 "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. and all God has to do is ‘recall’ that Life and "man will return to dust". (Job. 34:14)

Life, because it belongs to God is ‘holy’ … all life is meant to glorify God, all creatures with Life meant to fulfill the purposes of God and His desires. Because God is also LOVE ,He is only satisfied with perfectly happy creatures of His creation and He has given man instructions/commandments on how to live in perfect happiness, contentment and fulfillment. Anything we do contrary to that is a violation of His Life in us and is called ‘sin’.
If a creature ‘misuses’ the life that has been given him to harm himself or others or uses it to rebell against the God of Love that gave it , that is sin and must be atoned for.
So using God’s law of justice … like for like … that means Life for Life when sin against it is committed.
In God’s perfect heaven, there was no ‘death’ …. so there was no retribution/forgiveness possible for Lucifer. Life could not be given for the life that he misused. His own life is now tarnished, broken in sin … it could not atone for itself .. no more than the chipped pottery could be returned for retribution.
So Lucifer and his angels face an eternal punishment.

When God created man, He desires creatures that would choose to love Him, choose to serve Him -- creatures that would be children - His family in every sense of the word. A Being of Love that delights in calling Himself ‘Father’ needs children to pour His love out on.
To give his ‘children’ the freedom to come to Him because they loved Him and desired Him , He had to give them free will.
Free will, however, has a default of self-rule. Does God have free will ? Yes, of course.. He is sovereign. Does His freedom of self-rule -- creating/governing according to His own desires make Him a selfish Being ? No, because He is also a perfect Being .. in truth, in justice and in love and mercy and lovingkindness. For a Perfect Being to rule according to His own will and desire results in a perfect world.
But give free will to an imperfect being, then the ‘default’ to self-rule becomes something easily misused in that decisions/choices will be made without consideration of others’ well-being and for selfish reasons/goals. God’s will will be overruled by self-will. Every parent knows the ‘self-bent’ of their child when they begin to recognize the power of free will.

And so God, knowing that in creating man with a free will, He was creating a man who would fail, who would make wrong choices/decisions -- in other words ‘sin’ against or with the LIFE that God had given him -- God formulated a plan so that He would not have to condemn man when he sinned as He had to do with Lucifer.

That is why God told Adam and Eve … the day you sin, you will die. Death was not ‘created’ by God in His original creation -- only ‘sin’ brought God’s pronouncement of death into our world.
Why was death the punishment God decreed upon Adam and Eve ? Because only if there was death .. could their ‘sin’ be paid for …. LIFE for LIFE … can only be given where there is death.

A ‘broken’ life cannot atone for itself .. or one broken life for another broken life.. Only a Perfect Life can atone for a broken one. Adam and Eve both sinned and every man after them, there was no Perfect Life to give for broken Life.

We read in Rev. 13:8 that “the Lamb (was) slain from the foundation of the world.” We know Jesus did not come until 4000 years after Adam and Eve … yet God says for all intents and purposes He was ‘crucified’ from the foundation of the world. Why ? How?

God, in human form, Jesus, was the only Perfect Life that could be given to redeem the broken Life of every human being.
So how to apply the Life for Life before Jesus was slain ?
God set up, as it were, a line of credit. From Adam and Eve on, to the day Jesus gave His Life, every man could ‘borrow’ against that ‘reserve’ .
Every man could come to God with his ‘sin’ and with a token ‘life for life’ perfect animal sacrifice allowed God to ‘cover’ his sin until everyone’s sin debt would be paid in full by the Perfect Life for Life sacrifice of Jesus.
Animals cannot take away the sin of the world, (Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.) it is not really like for like .
But in establishing the animal sacrifice God was able to use the life of a perfect animal to apply the ‘line of credit’ to everyone who came to Him. And the people in bringing a perfect animal sacrifice for their sin … Life for Life... they were continually reminded how serious ‘sin’ was before God and that without forgiveness there was no fellowship/communion with God and no eternal living with Him.

In the old covenant sin was only ‘covered’,(Psa 85:2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin) it was not taken away as it is with the new covenant. ( I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and JUST to forgive us our sins and to CLEANSE us from all iniquity) Why is He just ?? because Perfect Life has been given for Life -- and therefore we can be cleansed from our sin as if it never were ! In the new covenant the ‘line of credit’ is no longer necessary - every believer in Jesus draws on His riches of forgiveness directly - simply for the asking.

My Life has been given to me for the glorifying of Jesus and for His good purposes for me. If I misuse that life to pursue my own interests , or to fulfill my own fleshly desires, then I am ‘sinning’ against that Life that belongs to God. How aware I need to be to ‘use’ my ‘life’ -- not just my given earthly life span -- but the moment to moment use of it , being careful that I am truly using it in a way that will glorify the God to whom it belongs.

Col 3:17 "And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."