The Glorious Graduation


untitled“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him”

(2 Corinthians 5:8-9 KJV).

Many of our loved ones have gone to Heaven.  At any time, we ought to be ready for the upward call. Is the Lord going to honor us with a cum laude, or “well done thou good, and faithful servant?  Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

We were present when my husband’s mother went to be with the Lord.  She woke up from a deep sleep, her eyes lit up; she had a smile on her face and a look of awe.  Then there was the excitement of her leaving us to meet the Lord.  We were together with my mother as well when she was ushered into our Lord’s presence.  She was so eager to go to be with our Lord!

While I was a pastor’s wife, we were blessed to have Esther and her family as members.  Esther had the gift of hospitality, and we were often entertained in her home for dinner and other events.  She was very helpful in serving in our church in any way she could.  After we were led to come to this ministry to serve, Esther contracted cancer.  She was alert until the end.  With her loved ones surrounding her, she said, “Oh, they are so beautiful!”  Her husband asked her who was so beautiful.  She said, “The angels! Can’t you see them?”  She then looked up and was taken to be with the Lord.  What a glorious testimony she left behind with her service unto the Lord and her parting words!  Her graduation was spectacular.

These are others’ experiences.  We are facing the same glorious future.  Are we occupying the present responsibilities we have so that we will have His approval?  If not, we can change and grow into a vessel more fit for the Master’s use.  It is often fulfilling the roles and responsibilities He has given to us in this life.  We need to be constantly faithful to be filled with His Spirit in obedience to the Word as He has given it to us.  The Harvest truly is plenteous.  We must be willing to labor with the desire to please Him.

I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

 

 

Peace, peace, is there no peace?


peaceful-sceneA few weeks ago I was teaching my High school bible class and the curriculum posed a question that made the students really think.

We were studying John chapter 7 where Jesus declares to be the living water. The lesson divided the people of this passage into 5 groups. 1. Some believe He is the Messiah (vs. 40-41), 2. Some are confused (vs. 41-42), 3. Some reject Him (vs. 44), 4. Some are afraid (vs. 45-49), and 5. one defended Him (vs. 50 – 53). Now, I cannot teach you my class period lesson so let me reword the question for you. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace and in John 14:27 He says, “Peace I leave with you and my peace I give unto you…” why is there division every time Jesus would speak? How would you answer that question?

We know the message of Christ is one of choice. If we choose to follow Christ, He gives us personal peace to our hearts. If we choose to reject Him, we are left with the turmoil of the world. That rejection can bring division between nations, friends and even family members. Christ’s peace is present even when there is trouble all around.  So, have you chosen the peace that Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace offers, or have you chosen to find your own way, which will most certainly cause division.

His Perfect Plan


Cherry-Blossom-Tree-trees-19838736-500-375Watching the springtime blossom has become one of my favorite things to do.  Such a simple, yet complex, process of transformation is awesome to watch unfold.  The things that were dead (or dormant) become alive.  It’s beautiful!

It’s also a wonderful reminder of how awesome our Heavenly Father is.  He keeps even the minutest details in order—every day.  The seasons come, year in and year out, without fail.  Never once have they skipped one or come in a confused order.  The seasonal time of rest has the earth and plants ready for a time of new growth.  It seemed so cold and dead during winter, but it had a purpose.  God’s plan is so amazing!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.  What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?  I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.  He hath made every thing beautiful in his time; also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

We will not know God’s purpose in many of the things we’ll face during our lives.  It may be something physical that affects us personally,  someone in our family going through a very difficult situation, or even the madness that goes on in the world around us.  Rest assured, the Father has known about it all along, and He has a perfect plan for it.  That’s how amazing He is!  It’s not for us to know His ways, but our confidence can be firmly rooted trusting that He knows best.

You’re Headed There and Someone is Leading You


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The Bible speaks of the “saved and the lost.” That is people who have received Christ by faith as their Savior and those who have not yet received Him as Savior. By now, you have no doubt determined your status. We are all on the path of life and being lead by someone or something. I want to establish my point that one must be led by the teaching of the Bible and a solid Bible preacher/teacher. We are warned in Col. 2:8 that the world is full of teachers who teach only “philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men and the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.”  The number of people that have been led astray over the centuries by these careless, false, self-seeking teachers is astronomical.

Let me rehearse for you the Jim Jones story from Guyana in 1978. This charismatic, self centered leader/preacher led some nine hundred people to their death. The dead bodies consisted of men, women, and children. He preyed on a certain type person that had an obvious need. He, through all the things mentioned above, lured these people into his inescapable web. He trained them to drink a poisoned kool-aid. He was their leader. He told them he had the truth. They followed a phony.

There are many wonderful, sound Bible preachers and teachers in the world, and I was privileged to have a father who was one of them. I want to share five things I have been taught during my earthly pilgrimage. Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  He will take care of me.  2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”  2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” Colossians 3:2, “Set you affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible is so rich in teaching us what to believe and how to live. I am not sure where you are today nor do I know whom you follow. I would offer you the Bible to read and follow. It will never lead you astray, but it will lead you to Christ and a productive, God blessed life.

Under His Wings


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Under His wings I am safely abiding.

Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,

Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me.

He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, under His wings, Who from His love can sever?

Under His wings my soul shall abide, Safely abide forever.

From Under His Wings by William O Cushing, 1896.

Psalm 91:4, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”

Will you pass the test?


imagesThe other day my Bible class had to memorize and write John 6:5,6. It says, “When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Phillip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him, for he himself knew what he would do.”

This portion of Scripture leads up to the feeding of the five thousand. I find the statement, “And this he said to prove him” interesting. This is a test! As I spoke with the students, we talked about math tests, English tests, science tests, etc. We do not have to be in a class to be faced with a test, especially a test of faith. Isn’t that what this Scripture is teaching us?  Phillip looked at the circumstances and said, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient.”  Maybe a car accident, a family struggle, or health problems have you questioning yourself or even God. Have you ever been put to the test and looked at the circumstances and said “I can’t”?  You’re right, we can’t!

Every trial we face is for a purpose. Trials do not come by accident; there are no accidents with God. They are arranged by the Lord to test our faith. How often do we lay out our plans and try to solve the problems without taking God into consideration? Everything in this life has a spiritual purpose. God loves us and wants us to LEARN to trust him. If we will LEARN this lesson, we can PASS the next TEST.

What is your weakness?


imagesNYJRS2Y7It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;  And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.  Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. ~Daniel 6:1-5

When going against an opponent the key to victory is finding and exploiting their weakness.  This holds true in a wide array of situations from sporting events to presidential debates.  It also has merit in the spiritual realm.  Even though we do not wrestle “against flesh and blood,” we still have a cunning foe striving to find a weakness to exploit!

In the subject text, Daniel is noted as having an “excellent spirit” and is the choice leader under the king.  However, he had foes looking to destroy him.  They could not find anything wrong with his leadership, management, social standing, political standing, financial status, or even moral character!  What they did find though was a way to exploit what they thought was a weakness; the weakness of worshipping the true and living God!  From their view, they had him nailed because they would set a trap regarding his worship and wait for him to get snagged.  You probably know the rest of the events that transpired.  In the end, because of his worship of the true and living God, the deceiving of the king was made known and the consequences swiftly administered.

We struggle against the same foe; maybe a different face and different clothes but the same foe!  What is your weakness?  Is it that you steadfastly worship the true and living God as Daniel?  Or is there something else that the great Adversary may exploit and accuse in the heavenly realms?  This passage is an excerpt of the life of a Godly man given to us for an example.  I challenge you to read through the book of Daniel and highlight the characteristics God developed in him and ask Him to develop them in you!

Biblical View of Romance/Love


imagesThe Bible mentions love 311 times. The dictionary defines romance as “ardent,  emotional attachment or involvement between people, a love affair.”  The true meaning of love, however, as used in the Bible is given in John 3:16. Love is giving to meet the need; Christ gave Himself to meet the need of mankind.   Love is often confused with infatuation: an elated–feeling, existing when two people “fall in love.” Of the types of love the Bible mentions, we will zero in on two that will apply to this study.   Agape love is represented by God’s love for us, a non-partial, sacrificial love best demonstrated by the gift of love in John 3:16.  This kind of love is patient,  kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). Agape has a connection through the Spirit. A true manifestation of this love requires a relationship with Christ.  Without Him, agape love is not exhibited in its truest form. Humans are not capable of reaching this level alone. The Heavenly Father’s Spirit in us, working through us, is capable. “The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Only through that Spirit can humans reach this goal. The other kind of love, phileo, is considered “brotherly love,” usually based upon how others treat us and our feelings in any given situation. It involves direct interaction and sometimes comes with the expectation, wanting something back in return, a demonstrative form of love offered through the soul, but, commanded  by God. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God ; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”  (1 John 4:7, 8). Love is the attribute of God that means much to us. If God did not love us, whom He created, He would have annihilated us long ago. Despite our many failures, God keeps working with us (Romans 5:8).  He expects us to love Him totally and to show love toward each other. “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27). Jesus spoke these words when the Pharisees questioned Him about the greatest commandment of God. Although they tried to trick Him, Jesus did not change the law; He fulfilled it. His sayings about love were not new. The relationships in our lives will either be governed by agape or phileo love.  The manifestation of agape love should  be evident between a man and a woman.   Romance is the physical proof of the love that exists. When that relationship progresses to marriage, the love built between the man and woman only grows deeper as the bond is made stronger through the intimate union of body and soul. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Biblical love elevates the husband’s affections for his wife to the point of loving his wife “as his own body.” It also instructs wives to submit to their husbands as the head of the household (Eph. 5:25-29). But submission does not mean subservience. On the contrary, when true agape love is manifested in the marriage, the two will act as one, and both will love the other as they love themselves. The tenderness and romance will come out of that love.

Follow Jesus!


untitledDown in the valley with my Savior I would go,

Where the flowers are blooming and the sweet waters flow;

Everywhere He leads me I would follow, follow on,

Walking in the footsteps til the crown be won.

Follow! Follow!  I would follow Jesus!

Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!

Follow! Follow!  I would follow Jesus!

Everywhere He leads me I would follow on!

From Follow On by William O. Cushing, 1878.

Resurrection from a Different Perspective


untitledBefore church this Sunday (Resurrection Sunday) my wife made some coffee to drink while we each read our Bibles.  She pulled up an app on her phone, I opened my computer, and we began reading God’s Word.  She was reading the Resurrection story in Mark.  I turned to John—but not John’s Gospel.  I was reading about the resurrection from John’s book of the Revelation.  I did not intend to read about the resurrection that morning.  Instead, I was going to continue my studies in the Apocalypse.  Since I had recently read through the book, my plan was to list all of the names and descriptions of the Lord in His Revelation.  I found many descriptions of Him:

Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, He who has a two-edged sword in His mouth, etc.

The most fascinating of these that I found that morning were the descriptions of our God as the resurrected, living Lord.

  • He is, was, and is to come.
  • Rev. 1:4, 8: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;…I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
  • Rev 4:8: And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
  • He is the First begotten from the dead.
  • Rev 1: 5: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…
  • He lives, and was dead and is alive for evermore! Rev 2:8: And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
  • Rev 4:9-10: And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,…
  • Rev. 1:18: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

These resurrection verses were a tremendous encouragement to me.  I was not even looking for this topic, yet here it is. It was a tremendous encouragement to read these verses.  Only two days prior I heard the news that my niece entered this world already present with the Savior.  The encouragement of the resurrection is what turns sadness and despair into hope and joy and peace.  Because He lives, we can live also!