Saturday, March 30, 2013

In Darkness, God is a Light.

"When I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me." Micah 7:8

Charles Spurgeon writes about this verse:

"This may express the feelings of a man or woman who is downtrodden and oppressed. Our enemy may put out our light for a season. There is sure hope for us in the Lord; and if we are trusting in Him and holding fast our integrity, our season of down casting and darkness will soon be over."

"We shall rise from our fall, for our God has not fallen and he will lift us up. We shall not abide in darkness, although for the moment we sit in it; for our Lord is the fountain of light, and He will soon bring us a joyful day. Let us not despair or even doubt."

Works of Charles Hadden Spurgeon

I have had seasons of darkness when I thought I could never feel happiness again. But I was wrong. The Lord did lift me up. The Lord was a light for me. The promises in the Word of God are true.

Monday, March 25, 2013

We are Surrounded.

Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. Psalm 32:10

You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Deuteronomy 32:10

Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forever. Psalm 125:2

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fickle Feelings

I like what I read about feelings in a book of writings by Charles Spurgeon. Here is an excerpt:

"Often do we hear the lamentation - 'I do not feel that I can be saved. I do not feel that I am forgiven. I do not feel it is possible my hard heart can ever be softened and renewed.'

This is poor, foolish talk. In what way can our feelings guide us in such matters? Do you feel that the dead can be raised again? Do you feel that the cold of winter will be followed by the heat of summer? How can you feel these things? You believe them. To talk of feeling in the matter is absurd.

I am the subject of very changeful feelings; but I have learned to set small store by them, either one way or the other. Above all, I have ceased to estimate the truth of God's promise by my condition of mind."

Today I feel so joyful that I could dance, but perhaps when I wake tomorrow morning I shall only be able to sigh in harmony with Jeremiah's lamentations. Has my salvation changed according to these feelings? If so, it must have a very movable foundation.

We are saved according to facts, not fancies. Certain eternal truths prove us saved or lost; and those truths are not affected by our happiness or depressions."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Faith and Works.

I'm reading a book of sermons by Charles Spurgeon. He once preached on children of the promise, Isaac, versus children of works, Ishmael. Isaac was born by a miracle of God - a son of a promise from God to Abraham. Ishmael was born by the works of man - Abraham and Sarah, who disobeyed God and tried to do good in their own way.

Spurgeon writes:

"We cannot be saved in part by self, and in part by the promise of God. The principle and notion of earning salvation must be expelled from the mind. Every degree and form of it must be "cast out." If we are so unwise as to place our dependence partly on grace and partly on merit, we shall be resting one foot on a rock and the other on the sea, and our fall will be certain.

There can be no dividing of the work or of the glory of salvation. It must be all of grace or all of works, all of God or all of man; but it cannot be half of one and half of the other. Cease from the vain attempt to unite two principles which are as adverse as fire and water. The promise, and the promise alone must be the foundation of our hope ...We must not begin in the spirit and hope to be made perfect in the flesh. us it is unlawful to mingle mercy and merit, grace and debt. Whenever the notion of salvation by merit, or feeling, or ceremonies comes in, we must cast it out without delay."

"...for by the works of the law shall no man be justified." Galatians 2:16

Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Don't Need Words.

When writing about how to act towards the rulers and authorities of the ancient world, Peter wrote:

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:12

 For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 1 Peter 2:15

I believe Peter was telling us not to argue, debate or show contempt for those with whom we disagree. We should quietly go about doing good.

Peter also has a lot to say about respect:

Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 2:17

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, by observing your pure and reverent lives. 
1 Peter 3:2

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect... (Not that he was saying slavery was okay, only how to act if you were a slave.)

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 3:7

There is a lot of disrespect going on in the realm of politics. I'm guilty of this myself. I agree with what Peter wrote and what God is telling us. Show respect for all authority and live your life doing good.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Life.

They came to the funeral. Kids who had known Craig in elementary school. They posted on Facebook about all the times Craig had helped them with homework or lifted them up when they were down.

The teens and twenty-year-old's that Craig had hung around with told the same story. How great Craig was and how he had helped them. This was a surprise to us adults because we had spent years trying to help Craig.

His father left the family when Craig was 18 months old. One day soon after his father left, a friend of ours bent down and asked Craig how he was. He lifted his little arms and said, "Daddy? Daddy?" He missed his dad then and missed him all his life.

Craig had a step-father who was cold and self-involved. I guess he did his best, but he didn't understand children and what they needed.

When he was a teen, he started getting into trouble. First came drinking and then drugs. He became addicted to ecstasy and then cocaine. He would get jobs and quit jobs. He would get into fights and have to go to emergency. He was nice when he was sober but angry when he was drunk or on drugs. He got into trouble with bad people and the police.

But he believed there was a God. He told me he prayed. He tried to stop drugs. He said when he was clean he wanted to go to schools and warn kids about drugs. The last year of his life he got a good job and was doing well but then he fell back into the old ways. When he died he had drank a lot of alcohol that night. He lay down to sleep on the sofa and never woke up. He drank too much. The sofa was soft and his head was face down. He was too deeply asleep to turn over and he was smothered.

I felt God wanted me to share with everyone about Craig's life and death. I'm not sure why. When his mother was crying alone in her bedroom the day after Craig died she said she felt God touch her left shoulder. She said she smiled and said, "Hello, God." Then, to her surprise, she felt Craig touch her right shoulder and say, "I'm happy, Mom."

I think God took Craig that night because he was headed for more terrible trouble; also, as I said in my last post, "God loved him." His was a life. A life God touched but couldn't help, so he took it to Himself.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Death Can Be Love.

My husband and I were talking about our grandson, Craig, who died a year and a half ago. I said something about not understanding why Craig had to die when so many other of his friends who had the same problems haven't died. My husband said, "When I pray, God says, 'Because I loved Craig. He died because I love him.' "

I have to say, that thought never crossed my mind and it gave me peace. It shows how little I know God because I rarely think that he loves people. I say it all the time, but I don't think I really believe it. When I pray for my daughters and grandchildren, I feel I have to convince God to love them as much as I do and save their souls. I've realized that deep down I don't really believe God loves me either.

I remember once Craig said to me, "God couldn't love me. I've done too many bad things." I said, "Craig, God loves you more than I do." I said it because the Bible says it, but did I really believe it? I don't think so. I feel sad about that and I've talked with God about it.

I guess in a world where people only love you when you are lovely it is hard to believe God's love. The Bible says it is an "unfailing" love. Everything in this world is conditional and it is hard to grasp this unconditional love of God. But I am trying.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Difficult People.

In his book, "The Life You've Always Wanted," John Ortberg writes about dealing with difficult people.

"The ministry of bearing with one another is more than simply tolerating difficult people. It is also learning to hear God speak through them. It is learning to be "for" them. It is learning that the difficult person I have most to deal with is me."

"Bearing with them" does not require becoming best friends, but means learning to wish them well, releasing our right to hurt them back, coming to experience our common standing before the cross."

I have a "difficult" friend. But I have learned so much from her. In the middle of a conversation she will start praying for whomever we were talking about. When I was feeling very weak, she anointed my head with oil and prayed for me. I was healed when I found out I needed vitamin C. Although she is poor, when she has extra she shares with her neighbors. I won't tell you her "difficult" traits. They are minor compared with the beautiful, growing Christian that she is.

Of course, there are people who are toxic - who hurt everyone they touch. These people are more than difficult, and they are best avoided. But we can still forgive, love and pray for them by the grace Christ gives us.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Loving Unconditionally.

I started reading "How to Succeed at Being Yourself," by Joyce Meyer. The first chapter opened my eyes about loving other people. Joyce says she knew she was supposed to show love to others and she tried, but without success. She didn't understand why until God showed her that she didn't love and accept herself or believe God loved her.

"My problem was a lack of love. I had never received proper love in my life; therefore, I had never learned to properly love myself." She says most people do not like themselves.

I remember when I was first a Christian at 19 years old I was judgemental and critical of other people. I was that way because I believed God was always judging me and finding fault with me. Every little mistake or sin made me think God had left me and didn't love me. That was my image of God so I treated others the same way.

When I finally came to see God loves me just as I am each day, the woman who sometimes swears, gets angry, smokes, and does things she knows she shouldn't. When I finally believed He loved me in spite of all this, I could love people who were not perfect too.

"We must develop the kind of mature love that says, 'I know I need to change, and I want to change. In fact, I believe God is changing me daily, but in the meanwhile I will not reject what God accepts. I will accept myself as I am right now, knowing that I will not always remain this way."

If we can feel that about ourselves, we can feel that about others.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Am a Little Church.

Photo by: Heavybluesman

i am a little church(no great cathedral)

By e.e.cummings

Original Language English

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

I like this poem so much. I guess because I also feel like a little church, not a great cathedral. In fact, I can relate to everything in this poem. God bless you all.