THE GROANING EARTH

Romans 8:19-22 “The creation waits in eager expectation  for the sons of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

You’re probably thinking “what a strange subject to talk about on a LifeWords blog.” Hang with me….I’ll get to it.

There have been numerous natural disasters in the last two months.  In fact the Atlantic hurricane season is the worst on record…and it’s not over yet!

Hurricane Harvey, a cat 4 hurricane hit S.E. Texas on August 25 and caused $180 billion dollars in damage, which is more than any other disaster in US history (Katrina was 2nd). It affected 13 million people from Texas to Louisiana.  As of this date it took 78 lives, but long term infections and bacterial intestinal problems because of drinking water systems being damaged, and PTS will take its toll on the health of the inhabitants there.  The flooding was a result of a record rainfall from a single storm in the US of 51.88″.

Since I now live in North Florida I experienced the effects of hurricane Irma.  However, our church prayed and asked God for mercy, and He answered YES!  In other parts of Florida, especially the west coast city of Naples, took a direct hits of 142mph.  The damage of Irma is still being calculated between $100 and $300 billion dollars.  Irma was the most powerful hurricane in recorded history.  This cat #5 made landfall on Barbuda Island on September 6 with winds of 185mph for 37 hours.

The Caribbean Islands have taken a strong hit from three hurricanes in a row, which has never happened before, and Maria is still active at this time.  Barbuda is no longer inhabited, Dominican Republic is devastated, all of Puerto Rico is without power.

Mexico was hit with a 7.1 earthquake.  At this point there are at least 273 lives lost, some were children that were in school.

Dozens of wildfires have enveloped the western U.S. – Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and California.  The smoke was so thick it caused respiratory problems, and the smoke was carried by the jet stream across the U.S.

There were massive landslides in the Alps of Switzerland covering a village, floods in India, Peru, Columbia, and Raleigh NC.  Severe drought in Spain and tornadoes in Wisconsin, Texas and Missouri.

These are all examples of our planet groaning for redemption….and I’m not even bringing up the man-made disasters of terrorism and wars.

Now, I know these things have gone on for thousands of years, and we are much more aware of them now because of social media.  However, my point is…as believers in the risen Christ who promises to come back and take us with Him….we have HOPE.

You hear or read about the predictions of some who say the world is coming to an end…….and sometimes it sure seems that way.   Some even give an actual date because of blood moons, stars aligning, the eclipse of the sun, weather change, natural disasters, terror attacks, etc.

The best book to get the actual facts from is THE HOLY BIBLE…. GOD’S WORDS TO US.   And the good news is…..the back of the book promises WE WIN!!!

Three of the Gospels, Mathew, Mark and Luke, record Jesus’ words…“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  Matthew 24:4-8

I don’t know much about prophecy, all I know is…..HE’S COMING, AND I’M READY !!!

How about you???

SUFFERING

suffering/synonyms: Acute bodily or mental pain. Distress may be physical, but it is more often mental, referring to any deep anxiety, or the external circumstances that may produce it.  Misery is extreme suffering or abject hopelessness, as from sorrow, great loss, poverty, or the like.

Why is suffering allowed by God?

That question has been asked by believers and non-believers alike…….the difference is, those who know God know that He is a balance of justice and mercy.  Sin came into His perfectly created world because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  So because of that first sin, all of creation (including you and me) is waiting for the healing that will happen when Christ returns.

Last Sunday I sang at a church in the Tampa, Florida area.  At the fellowship meal afterwards I met a 43-year old mother of 3 who was still having therapy after a triple by-pass heart surgery 3-months ago.  She had no warning, only tightness in her chest.  She has MS, her husband travels for his job during the week, her father had just been diagnosed with cancer, and she has 3 boys ages 5-12 years old.  She thought the tightness in her chest was stress from life’s challenges.  The weekend her husband was home he encouraged her to go to the ER, but she refused….he insisted.  They sent her home.  The pain started then and she went back.  This time she was in surgery within the day with 100% blockage in one artery and 90% blockage in two others.  Post-surgically in the hospital one of her lungs collapsed.  Of course many prayer warriors were lifting her up in prayer…..and she is recovering wonderfully.  But, why would this godly young woman already dealing with MS have to suffer like that?

She is radiant with the love of Christ, and is a strong witness to her doctors, nurses and therapists.  She gives God all the glory for His healing touch.

I have experienced pain physically and emotionally in my lifetime, but I’ve never really suffered.  How about you?  If you have, according to the definition at the top of this blog, how have you handled it?

Right now there is an abundance of suffering in Texas due to the devastation of hurricane Harvey and the ensuing rainfall that is still causing flooding.  I can’t even imagine what that must be like.  There will be human suffering, distress and misery there for a long time.  Our prayers, finances and when possible, physical help, are with them.

There really is no way to end this blog on this subject because human suffering will always be with us.  But I must encourage you that God is a loving and compassionate God, and His heart is broken as He sees the ongoing suffering of human kind.

The Apostle Paul suffered much as he shared the Gospel of Christ.  He wrote in Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…”

God sent His Only Son, Jesus, to this world; part human due to His birth from a virgin, so that He could feel and understand what we go through as humans.  In the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, we read what was written about the suffering of Christ 700-years before His death on the cross.  Verse 3:  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”

Dear God, help us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.  Romans 5:3-5

Photo: Gisela Giardino, Flickr Creative Commons

LIFE is in the BLOOD

I’m sure most of you have had a blood test from time to time in your life.  Not fun…but necessary to check the many aspects of your health.  It’s always amazing to me that a test from my blood sample will tell if I’m low on a certain vitamin, like B12 or D.  I just had my yearly test last Friday, mainly to check cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but this time they are also checking my B12 to see if I would benefit from the shots to give me more energy!  Ha!  I know my cholesterol is high…that’s a hereditary problem, and I know I should exercise more aggressively every day!  ( I guess just looking at my stationary bike doesn’t get the job done!!!)

So much about health can be gleaned from blood tests…..it is a reminder to me that “life is in the blood”.

That’s why we receive the gift of life everlasting from the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for the removal of sins.  This is another one of the mysteries of God’s ways.  I don’t understand how that works, but I accept the covering of Christ’s blood over me.  In fact I ask Him for that covering every day.  If that seems gross to you, let me explain.

God doesn’t have blood, because He is Spirit, but His Son, Jesus, was born in the form of man so He could become Emanuel, meaning “God is with us”.  Jesus was born from a virgin, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, (the third person in the God-head).  Because of His human form, His life was in His blood.

Before Jesus Christ died for our sins, sins were cleansed by the spilling of blood from bulls, lambs, and doves.  (In fact, cults around the world still kill animals, sometimes even people, to cover their sins with the shed blood.  How sad they do not know that God’s Son, Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross and spilled His blood once and for all time for their sins. Hebrews 7:27)

When Jesus died on the cross, it was because His blood spilled out of Him.  He was dead, was buried, and in Resurrection power came to life again.  Now, if we believe in Him, we can have life everlasting.

This fact is accepted by simple child-like faith.  If you are struggling with faith to believe that God’s Son, Jesus, did this for you, and you need prayer or guidance, please contact us on our Facebook page by private message.

The entire book of Hebrews is Paul’s appeal to the Jews to accept the superiority of the blood of Christ over the Judaic system of animal sacrifice. Read Hebrews 7:24-27.

Romans 3:23-25 ~ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood.

Ephesians 1:7-8 ~ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

OUR Hope

Mary is a former pastor’s wife who served the Lord and people for decades. She is in her 80’s now and is a resident in the Good Samaritan Center nursing home in the memory care unit. Because this nursing home is part of the retirement village where I now live, I have the opportunity to visit the dear ones who have been placed there.

When I enter the memory care unit behind locked doors, I notice Mary among others whom I greet. She has a beautiful, soft countenance (unless she is in pain~then a frown shows). Our greeting of one another usually begins with a song! Mary has a strong alto voice and an extensive repertoire of hymns. When I begin to sing the following hymn she joins in with perfect harmony:

“Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words
of life! Words so freely given, wooing us to heaven,
beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.”
(Philip Bliss 1874)

Although Mary’s brain is being ravaged by a terrible, debilitating disease, she still knows her God, her Savior, and the Holy Spirit’s comfort.  I don’t mean to single Mary out because most of the dear ones who are spending their evening years in this nursing home have a relationship with Christ.  As we sing together she is ministering to me, to the other residents, to the nurses, CNA’s and housekeeping workers; that there is HOPE for our future if we are secure in Christ our Savior.

One evening as I was leaving, most of the residents were already in bed for the night; I heard a strong voice coming from a darkened room down the hall.  I peeked in and saw Mary on her bed with both arms raised high and singing, Blessed Assurance………”This is my story, this is my song…..Praising my savior all the day long.   This is my story, this is my song….Praising my Savior……all the day long!” (Fanny Crosby 1873)

Oh God, help me to never forget the HOPE I have in You.  No matter what comes my way, I know, that I know….that You are  real, You are alive; You care.  You sent your Only Son to die and shed His blood for me for the covering of my sins.  One day You will come again to this earth and take me home to be with you forever.

hope

This is the HOPE that changes everything that I think, feel, say and do. I pray you have this HOPE as well, because it surely makes life fulfilling.

Titus 3:4-7  “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His Mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the HOPE of eternal life.”

Re-post from July 2014

GRADUATION DAY

Graduations are in process now at Universities, Colleges, Tech Schools and High Schools.  This is a life changing event filled with hope for the future. For most it is a step to further learning and degrees that will secure good income to support their families.  It is a big accomplishment, and I offer my congratulations to you and your family members for pursuing and completing that dream.

college-graduationThe dictionary offers one definition that works for this writing today: to change gradually or by degrees.

As I reach my 75th birthday I can honestly tell you that life is a learning process.  Oh boy, is it ever!!!   We can all identify with that fact!  The struggles….the victories!  The sad times…the happy times!  But, that’s what learning is.  If everything was easy we wouldn’t learn from a failed test.  Failing isn’t all bad because we can learn from our mistakes and improve our grade the next time there’s a test!!!

Have you noticed……life is a classroom of tests.  And the Unchanging Teacher is God through His Holy Spirit, and the text book is His Word….The Holy Bible.

The Book of Proverbs is full of wisdom.  In fact it says to not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight; preserve, keep sound judgement and discretion, and they will be life for you.   Wisdom is found in those who take advise.

King David says in Psalm 19:73…….Give me understanding to learn your commands.  And Job 34:4 says ….. we should discern for ourselves what is right, and learn together what is good.

Well….if wisdom is found in those who take advise, let me give you some advise, since I am a white-headed elder who has come through years of “gradual change”!!!

Read…study God’s Word so that you may learn wisdom and understanding at the Highest Degree.

LOOK FORWARD TO THAT GREAT GRADUATION DAY WHEN YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER SAYS “WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT…..ENTER IN TO THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION”.

YOU CAN’T GET A HIGHER DEGREE THAN THAT ! ! !

To Ponder………..

Do you know what it means to ponder?   I guess it’s an old fashioned word, but according to the two dictionaries I looked at, ponder has a much deeper meaning than just to think about something,

Ponder: to weigh in the mind; consider or examine carefully; to meditate; to reflect seriously; to think upon.

We think about people and circumstances all the time, and that can be beneficial or not. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “stinkin’ thinkin'”. Even the Bible says  “as a man thinks, so is he.” (Psalm 23:7 KJV)

Philippians 4:13 says; whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable….if anything is excellent or praiseworthy….think on these things.  That certainly is a good way to govern our thinking and speaking.

However, to ponder is to go much deeper…..kind of like meditation, which I have written about before.  As a cow chews the cud, swallows it, brings it up again several times before taking it in for total nourishment.  That cow, or other cud chewing animal, is taking in a little bit of nourishment each time she swallows the juice or cud before she completes the “ponder, or meditation” with a swallowing of the whole.

I think we can ponder a subject, even the same one, our entire lives.  And if you have a one on one relationship with you Creator, pondering can be a way of communication or prayer with Him.

Imagine what Mary, the mother of Jesus, was pondering.( Luke 2:19) What an awesome responsibility she had to carry in her womb the Son of God and to nurture Him as a child to adulthood, and to know what He was going to go through to save the world.  That goes beyond my human understanding, and is one of those “God Things” I accept by faith!  There’s no way to figure out how God did that…..but I believe!

All I want you to receive from this writing today is to allow yourself TIME TO PONDER the works of God….not just His creation but also His work in human hearts and lives. It’s OK to sit quietly and look at God’s Creation, or to consider or examine carefully a matter, asking Him for wisdom so you see clearly the way to proceed.

Join me this week in reading the 111th Psalm, and ponder His works!  Ponder what He is doing in your heart and life, or in that of a friend or a family member…….in a situation that seemed impossible, and yet God is turning it around for good, as He promised.  It’s always amazing to me to look back and see why God “did it His way” and not my way!!!

When you ponder the works of God, you will feel like weeping, laughing, shouting, or praising Him.  When you ponder His works, He will speak truth to you!!!

Thy Word

WHAT???

When you cannot hear, clearly, the person who is speaking to you…..what do you do?

I know what I do…..I yell back…. WHAT?

A more respectful way to answer would be to say…..”Excuse me, would you please repeat that?”

I am living in a large home right now with a friend.  We both go about our individual busyness, sometimes speaking information the other person needs to know while one or the other is walking away to another part of the house.  When that happens to me I often yell loudly ” WHAT??? ”

It would be better for me to walk to where she is and ask her nicely to repeat the information or request.  That way we would have a face to face conversation and the information would not be misunderstood….because if that happens the outcome is usually chaotic… for instance…”I told you, blah, blah, blah, remember?”…..”No, I didn’t get that message.”   etc……you know the scenario!!

But, what about the message God is speaking to you?  Do you turn a deaf ear and pretend by your own social rules that you don’t hear Him clearly so that you don’t fully understand what He is saying to you?

Since I have been a follower of Christ since a young child I have learned to hear…not saying I always obey…but that’s another topic.  I know the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict and correct so that I will come to repentance.  Then He teaches and comforts me.

Life in Christ is continual learning.    (I was going to say curve….but there are no curves in God’s way.  He is straight….Absolute!)   Yah, I mess up, but God’s still, small voice through the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding me to check my motives.  He points out those sins that pull me away from wanting to hear Him clearly.

I really want to HEAR HIM CLEARLY…….don’t you?   Because His Word gives me life, and I want life more abundantly while I’m on this Planet.     Do you?

And God does not change.  It seems that society is changing the basic, God-given life rules.   What’s wrong is OK and right,  what’s right is up for individual interpretation.  BUT GOD HAS ABSOLUTES….AND THOSE DO NOT CHANGE, and the consequences of disobedience are painful.

I cry out to God often with a WHAT???    What is it God….what are you saying to me?  I want to HEAR YOU CLEARLY…..with no outside opinions or philosophies.

I WANT TO ALWAYS ” HEAR HIS VOICE BEHIND ME SAYING, THIS IS THE WAY; WALK IN IT.”   Isaiah 30:21

Ear

Have you found the perfect gift yet?

I get amused with the Christmas shoppers in the Riverside Gift Shop I am managing at the retirement village.  They will come in and say they’re looking for the “perfect gift” for someone and they’ll “know it when they see it.”

gift

This month of Christmas music, programs, parties and shopping can become stressful to some people.  We have been made to feel guilty if we don’t give extra to the needs of those less fortunate.  There are the lonely people who actually hate this time of year.

But wait…..what is it really all about?  And I mean more than remembering a miraculous virgin birth of a baby 2000+ years ago.

The miracle of Jesus the Christ…..the Anointed One, is that He is fully God and fully human!!!    The doctrinal word for that is Incarnation……….and I don’t mean a flower!!!

This is one of the mysteries of Almighty God.   In His Son, Jesus, God became a human man to save us ultimately by shedding His blood on the cross, dying and arising from the dead, without ceasing to be God.

Philippians 2:5-11    Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

WOW!!!  That’s quite a bit to comprehend.  It’s so “far out there” our human minds cannot figure it out……not possible….don’t go there!!!

It is child-like FAITH which is a GIFT from God to receive THE TRUTH.

If you are struggling with the reality of who Jesus is, and that He is more than a baby in a manger, ask God to give you the faith to believe.  Be honest with God, He knows the thoughts and intents of your heart anyway.  Don’t try to figure it out…..just know that God loves you with unconditional love.  Once you realize that great love through Jesus Christ you will never be the same again!

The celebration of Jesus’ birth this week will give you JOY and an INNER PEACE that is unexplainable.

JESUS CHRIST IS INDEED THE MOST PERFECT GIFT TO YOU!!!

Romans 6:23  The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

THANK YOU, LORD

In reading the Scriptures listed under the thanksgiving title in the concordance, I notice that most of them begin with an admonition to be joyful and sing!

Well…….I like that for sure!!!

When I am weary or discouraged and I start singing, or listening to praise music….the joy and thanksgiving in praise wells up within me.

I love God’s creation of animals and natural places in our world. Do you think they thank God for their existence? Ha! That may be taking it a bit too far! However, the “trees of the field clap their hands”  in praise to God, and, if we don’t praise Him, even the rocks will cry out!!! He provides food and water for His animal creations! The seas roar and the stars sing!

These alive plants and animals……all of earth and the heavens know who their Creator is. And God cares so much for His creation He even knows and cares about the little sparrow that falls.

HOW MUCH MORE HE CARES FOR YOU!!!

GIVE HIM THANKS…..FOR HE IS GREAT, AND GREATLY TO BE PRAISED!!!

Psalm 100  “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, for the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

WHAT IS TRUTH?

We are soon to take our responsibility as United States Citizens to vote locally and for the President of our United States of America.  This is a serious time and each one of us must be informed of the issues, weigh our decisions carefully, and ask God for wisdom in our choices.  We are listening for TRUTH but all we hear are false promises.

Two thousand years ago the Jewish people under the harsh rule of Rome thought Jesus would be their King.  They hailed Him as their Messiah who would rule them justly and throw over the oppressive Roman government in Israel.  As they discovered in one week….He said His Kingdom was not of this world.  They called Him a blasphemer because He said His Father God sent Him. They wanted to kill Him!

But when Jesus was brought before Pilate to be questioned, Jesus answered him (John 18:36-38) “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not here.

Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’  Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king.  For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the TRUTH.  Everyone who is of the TRUTH hears My voice.

Pilate said to Him, ‘WHAT IS TRUTH?”

Are you asking the same question today?  We are hearing and believing lies every day.  Satan’s language is lies….that is his native tongue! (John 8:44)

Romans 1:25 says wicked men exchanged the TRUTH of God for a lie.

The only absolute TRUTH is Jesus the Christ, who came from the Father full of grace and TRUTH. (John 1:14)  Jesus speaks the TRUTH.  He is quoted as saying “I tell you the TRUTH” thirty times in Matthew, thirteen times in Mark, eight times in Luke, and thirty seven times in John.

When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He knew He was going to die, raise from the dead and ascent to His Father in heaven.  He told them He was going to leave them…and they were afraid!

He said, (John 14:1-6)  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my fathers house are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.  Thomas said to Him ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

That is a promise…..and God does not break His promises!!!

Jesus also said (John 8:32)  “You shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall make you free.”

NOW YOU KNOW WHAT TRUTH IS!!!

Thy Word