Monday, December 29, 2014
If you are a gardener, without doubt you have learned many lessons from the experience. For years I have not had the heart to dig up and throw away a scroungy rose bush. This spring I watered and fertilized it and paid no attention from thereon. One day I literally gasped to see eight huge red blooms. What a reminder. When we fertilize and water our mind, heart, and soul from God’s Word we bloom for the glory of God.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
How long has it been since you turned to the O. T. book of Hosea? What a beautiful love story! Hosea loved adulterous Gomer, paid to buy her back and loved her just as God loved idolatrous Israel and just the way He loves unfaithful us. Romans 8:1 picks me up and says, “Norma, keep moving ahead.”
Monday, December 8, 2014
Do you have trouble sleeping through the night? I do. Sleep apnea is one of God’s greatest blessings to me because it retires me from the world. Some people spend those hours before the computer or TV screen. Others resort to counting sheep instead of talking to the Shepherd. The Psalmist said, “Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night” (Psalm 16:7b). Oh, the glorious experience of opening my mind to God and His Word! Sometimes it is as though I’m at the very gates of Heaven.
Monday, December 1, 2014
“There is something about that name. … Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus … Let all heaven and earth proclaim: kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name” (Gaither Music Company).
Jesus IS the reason for Christmas. May the business of trees, tinsel, gifting, baking, shopping, and frustration not crowd out the reason that God sent Jesus in the form of a baby born in a manger.
God sent us a Savior! “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior” (Roy Lessin). “But, when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). Hallelujah what a Savior!
“All praise to Him who reigns above, In majesty supreme,/ Who gave His Son for man to die, That He might man redeem!/ His name above all names shall stand, Exalted more and more./ At God the Father’s own right hand, Where angel hosts adore. His name shall be the Counsellor,/ The mighty Prince of Peace,/ Of all earth’s kingdoms Conqueror, Whose reign shall never cease. (“Blessed Be the Name” William H. Clark; Ralph E. Hudson, Refrain)
“Immortal, invisible, God only wise,/ In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,/ Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,/ Almighty, victorious — Thy great name we praise.” (Walter Chalmers Smith; based on 1 Tm. 1:17) “In Him was life and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
In all our bluster let us take time to enjoy the peace that comes by fixing our heart on Jesus. Find a quiet spot to still your heart before Him so that you are prepared to share the greatest gift of all to those you contact. I am handing out tracts to everyone I can. People need to know that Jesus is the reason for the season. And with a peaceful demeanor I must do all I can to share Jesus who was born, died, rose again, and now lives on high to save souls. Hallelujah what a Savior! Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
Have a Blessed, Jesus-filled Christmas, Norma Whitcomb
Monday, November 24, 2014
I am almost breathless when we, as a congregation, sing, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise. In light inaccessible hid from our eyes. Most blessed, most glorious, the ancient of Days,. Almighty, victorious--Thy great name we praise.” I can hardly wait to get to heaven so that I will have an improved, glorified vocabulary to praise God with. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear has heard”(I Cor. 2:9) nor has mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” We are awed by the blessed hope of one day seeing our Savior and Lord face to face. In the meantime, let us avail ourselves of God’s promises to give “songs in our gloomy night affliction” (Job 35:10). Sing His praises. Walk close to Him.
Monday, November 17, 2014
“Circumstances reveal the inner person.” Circumstances make us bitter or better. Job called them the chastening/discipline of the Almighty (Job 5:17). Our sufferings are not from a cruel one. Paul described them as God’s love gift. Heb. 12:6 acknowledges God’s wisdom in His discipline. In our sorest trials and most distressing seasons, we can fully depend on Jesus to give strength. We are daily buoyed up as we keep our spiritual eyes on our God’s promised blessed hope. “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil.1:6
Monday, November 10, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Our transient, love-starved world has numerous heart’s doors that are desperately waiting to swing open to someone who has a compassion.That is a stupendously big topic which I will slightly touch on in this issue. Before I do, I would like to refer to MENTORING Part 2 to leave a few thought-provoking snippets about the husband-wife relationship.
“Anything without a head is dead. Anything with two heads is a monster — in the home and elsewhere.” “Before marriage opposites attract; After marriage opposites attack.”
“Do we wear labels or do we meet needs?” “Anyone in need of mercy is a neighbor.”
The husband-wife relationship sets the tone for the home atmosphere; therefore, it must be strongly, consistently, and seriously established on Christian principles. God has given the necessary guidelines in His Instruction Book.
Homes are crumbling. Why? For reasons too many to be covered in this short treatise. One to be addressed is the transient lifestyle of its members. Extra-curricular school activities, sports, clubs, music, “Ys,” gyms, hobbies, and more entice family members away from each other. Parents and children don’t know where the others are. Days go by without sitting down to a meal together as a family. Mealtime is a special time for catching up with each other and for bonding. A time of laughter and love. A time to share perspectives, plans, and dreams. A time to be guided, admonished, and equipped. A time of corporate mentoring. A family devotion time.
At one time the six children of our blended family ranged from 13 to 20 years. Work schedules and school programs became a challenge for togetherness. We had to have rules that could not be broken without an acceptably good reason. There were no excuses for neglecting church. In their younger years we went as a family in one station wagon. In those days we dressed appropriately, because we were going before the King of kings. (Perhaps this statement is out of line in this day and age. Please excuse if you disagree with my clothing code.)
Every child needs the masculine influence in his/her life. For various reasons it is missing. Mother must play the two roles. Impossible and unforgivable if both live in the home. Mother provides love, understanding, and tenderness. Father provides solidarity and regularity. Together they do not merely focus on the cute little child but on the child’s adulthood. Already Gone and Already Compromised, books produced by Answers in Genesis, alert and unnerve us when we read facts and data that focus on why youth are church dropouts. I believe the basic reason starts in the home and then the church. Youth are home dropouts as well.
From experience I conclude that the most strategic mentoring tools are godly prepared hearts, minds, and souls. When needy opportunities cross our paths, we rarely have warning, and we must be prepared through fervent, believing prayer, There is great activity in the heavenlies when we pray. As we pray, “the Spirit works in the unconscious domain of another’s being about which we know nothing, and about which the other person knows nothing. After a while the conscious life of the one being prayed for begins to show signs of softening and unrest, of enquiry and a desire to know. As our prayers are directed to God who understands the conscious depths of our longing, He uses our prayers to change the desires of the one for whom we are praying. We cannot keep silent; we are compelled to intercede. We refuse to doubt or give up our vigil” (Oswald Chambers).THE TRINITY IS EFFICACIOUS. WE CAN’T LOSE!
Monday, November 3, 2014
One of Fanny Crosby’s hymns sings, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life-gate that all may go in.” Hebrew 6:17-20 substantiates this. We believers are “heirs of what [God] promised.” The transforming work of the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us!
Monday, October 27, 2014
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord.” Deut. 6:12 I use a simple color code for marking my Bible. Since this quote is a serious solemn warning it is highlighted in orange. “When God created us He put a vacuum in our hearts which can only be filled with and by Himself.” It is grievous to God when we forget Him. We injure ourselves when we forget God. It is easiest to forget Him in times of prosperity. Starting our day by reading the Word and prayer sets our mind on Him.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Monday, October 6, 2014
Mentoring is defined by Stanley and Clinton in their book, CONNECTING, as a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing their God-given resources. They support their definition by showing that Moses mentored Joshua, that Naomi coached Ruth, and that Jesus clearly modeled a lifestyle of mentoring as he discipled and taught His disciples. Mentoring certainly is a multi-faceted experience composed of discipling, guiding, coaching, counseling, teaching, sponsoring, and modeling. Mentoring is reaching out to meet the painful needs of hurting people. Or it may be less invasive, as the above description indicates.
Simply stated, mentoring is caring about and lovingly leading someone to be an overcomer. As Christians our purpose is to point them to the Word of God to find out who He is and what He can/will do for them. At a glance it is obvious that there are numerous burdened and baffled individuals who need answers. There are many reasons why they don’t reach out for help. Often they can think of no one whom they feel comfortable with or who would have answers.
When God opens the mentoring door to us, we are initially overwhelmed. It is possible that we shun our God-appointed responsibility for fear we won’t have answers. Of course the enemy will put roadblocks in front of us. Oh, what a powerful God we have who invites us to trust Him for wisdom, knowledge, and direction. He will be with us for He has promised, “whatever you ask the Father in my name, he WILL do it” (Jn. 16:23). Step out. Claim His never failing promises.
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to chat (mentor) again with a friend of several years. After chatting awhile, I felt it was time to ask questions. “Are you reading your Bible?” (On several occasions I had challenged her with that necessity.) She said that she had not taken the time because of enormous interruptions. I knew that to be true and sympathized with her.The second question was, “Are you finding comfort in the Lord?” Answer, “I’m trying.” Response, “Dear, B., it is not a matter of trying. It is a matter of trusting” (Prov. 3:5).The better we know our Bible, the more readily will the Holy Spirit bring Scripture to our mind when we need it. God’s “sword” will be at the edge of our mind and at the tip of our tongue.
I again quote from THE DAILY REMEMBRANCER, edited by S.H.Tow, page 578. “Our God is greater than all, and He is able and faithful. Remember His promises, ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be.’ Prove the Savior’s testimony, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ Accept the divine invitation, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.’ Attend to the inspired direction, ‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.’ Imitate the sorely tried Psalmist, ‘I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’ Rest thy troubled spirit on the promises of God, ‘He giveth power to the faint, and to him that haveth no might He increaseth strength.’ Endeavor to apply to yourself the apostolic exhortation, ‘Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’ Let not your hearts faint, for your sins are pardoned, your foes are doomed, your mansion is being prepared, your needs will certainly be met, your Savior deeply sympathizes with you, your heavenly Father cares for you, and all things must work together for your good. Call upon God and He will show thee great and mighty things that thou knowest not. ‘Let not your hearts faint.’” Rich! By God’s grace alone! Be strengthened by these powerful, assuring promises so you are equipped to use them in your mentoring ministry.
In the later months of her life Henrietta Mears said that if she had her life to live over she would just simply believe God. Romans 11:20 states that we “stand by faith.” By faith we receive Christ as our Savior. By faith we walk with God. By faith we are kept by the power of God. Let us strive against doubts. Let us pray for confidence in God and His Word.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
God said, “I am that I am.” Does that boggle your mind? God surprised Moses by speaking to him from a source: -- a burning bush. Are you praying for guidance? Your heavenly Father has answers for you; not as spectacular as to Moses. In this day and age, His Holy Spirit guides through thoughts, experiences, people, and His Word.
Monday, September 15, 2014
“All that God is performs all that God does.” We need to know who God is so that we can know what He can/will do for us. God reveals amazing insights about Himself in the only Book that He ever made available to us. Dig in and find out.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
It is a delight to share with you again after a two-month absence. Have you entwined your heart with someone to mentor? I do hope so.
It is interesting to know that entire companies are recognizing the value of mentoring to the point of establishing internal mentoring structures to ensure that senior executives will coach young men and women employees. Interesting. Isn’t that a wakeup call to us to follow the scriptural mandate of mentoring so that the legacy of godly living is passed on to the next generation?
In many cases the home is the most neglected when it comes to mentoring. Committed Christians neglect home ministry! What should be our mentoring priority? Our ministry within the family unit. It seems that we so often think of ministry as something we do outside the walls of our homes or under a church umbrella. To establish a solid, God-honoring unit requires more love, patience, and time than our busy, self-centered schedule seem to permit.
The good Samaritan account of Luke 10:29-37 has had a tremendous impact on me as I ponder the home unit. The lawyer’s question (Luke 10: 25-28), whether sincere or an attempt to trick Jesus, sets the background for my thoughts about the home. He asked a very pointed, thought-provoking question, “Who is my neighbor?” As the instructive parable unfolds, Jesus makes it clear that a neighbor is someone in need. Someone who is hurting. A neighbor needs a mentor! A “someone” who will listen, who will feel, who will care with compassion and love. Someone who lives the virtues of spiritual fruit — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22).
Perhaps it might appear that I am stretching the Samaritan account. I rather think that I am extending it to another justifiable application. One reason that homes are crumbling is the laxity in neighborliness within its walls.The inhabitants are different people inside and outside its door. In my Young’s concordance are well over 100 Bible references to the word neighbor that is listed in categories of “near,” “friend,” “companion,” etc. May I make an assignment? Look up, read, ask the Holy Spirit to help you, as parents, example and teach true neighborliness in the home, which then becomes a “lamp stand” to reach into your neighborhood (Luke 4:21-25).
Within the family the first mentoring ministry ought to be between husband and wife. Surprise! Never thought of that before? The home environment will be no stronger than is the husband- wife relationship. The first principle that comes to mind is “selflessness.” Ouch! Divorce incubates on selfishness. “I want my way and I am not giving in.” Sounds rather childish, doesn’t it? And everybody suffers.
The word “activity” is the first to flash across my mind as a detriment to neighborliness within the home. Please spend some time evaluating the amount of time that the family spends together as a sharing relational unit talking with each other, laughing together, playing games together, eating around the table together, uniting in serious, deep Bible study together.
Once when John Foster Dulles phoned the Douglas MacArthur II home asking for “Doug,” Mrs. MacArthur snapped back irately, “MacArthur is where MacArthur always is weekdays, Saturday, Sundays and nights—in that office!” Within minutes, MacArthur got a telephone order from Dulles. “Go home at once. Your home front is crumbling.”
“A CHARGE TO KEEP WE HAVE; A GOD TO GLORIFY.”
Saturday, July 19, 2014
The Picture above is for the 90th Birthday Celebration for Dr. John Whitcomb which was held at Indianapolis on June 22. Family members traveled as follows: four from Indianpolis, one from Washington, DC, four from Maryland, one from Florida, six from Pennsylvania, two from northern Indiana, seven from Idaho, two from the state of Washington, and two from California. That's four generations from eight states!
Dr. Whitcomb wrote, "It was a time together that we will never forget -- a foretaste of heaven!"
Note: I will not be posting a blog on "A Window for Women" either July or August, but am looking forward to being with you again in September. May you have a blessed summer as the Lord leads you each step of the way. Blessings, Norma
And a more formal picture of Dr. & Mrs. Whitcomb:
Thursday, June 5, 2014
“A quick glance at the women’s magazines on the end of the aisles at the grocery store gives proof of the need for influence among today’s women. The feminine masses are preoccupied with who is the most influential, the most beautiful, the most successful, the happiest. Why? With the separation of families, many are left with the absence of a woman of influence in their day-to-day lives” (Baptist Bulletin, May 2001).
We live in a very independent world. We are extremely independent women. It is difficult to spend time with an outpouring of influence into the lives of others. We live in a world of independent people who don’t want anyone to meddle with their values or their plans. At the same time, there are many who live behind a facade. What an opportunity to be that someone to whom they will divulge their aching heart!
What does it take to be a woman to whom one would come to find help? Does our godly walk and our godly character single us out as one with spiritual depth mingled with graciousness, love and understanding? Have we walked through the valley with God so that we have learned to edify ourselves — all because our hearts have been entwined with Him through our temptations and trial
Women need companionship and comfort as they journey through their transient and troubled experiences. They are searching for someone who has been through the fire. The dross has been removed and she gleams with pure gold. They are looking for someone who possesses a mothering heart. One who will not judge or condemn, but who will love, be patient and understanding, pray with her, and help her through trials (cf. Phil.2: 1-4).
Mentoring is not a circumstance of older to younger. Age has nothing to do with it. Yes, it can be a grandmotherly ear bent to a young child, or teenager with teenager, or friend with friend, or youth at the footstool of an aged one. It is tenderness, loving concern, coupled with consistent godliness which results from a consistent walk with God.
Oh yes, there must be the willingness to give the treasure of time. There is no substitute. Influence is deepest and most penetrating when invested over time. It is time consistently spent in the Word and in prayer that prepares us to be a mentor.
Reaching out has no barriers. It can be done via email, letters, phone conversations, or over a cup of tea. It is the godly mothering influence that is being searched out. One who can be depended on to keep confidences. One who will not condemn. One who has compassion (cf. Phil. 2:1-4).
Question: Are we ready to lay aside the trivia of life (make you own list) to make/spend time investing our godly influence and insights into a searching heart? There are droves of such ones out there. If you know not such a one, pray that God will lead her to you or you to her. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
“In some form worship is all but universal. Wherever on earth man is found, there he presents to the Power above the offerings of his devotion. Doubtless there are cases without number in which worship has degenerated into mere superstition. Yet, where worship is at its best, it is one of the very highest manifestations and exercises of human nature.” Jesus cast more light upon this subject in His few words to the distraught woman at the well at Sychar than in any other event (cf. John 4:21 - 23).
I do so want to worship my Savior more seriously, more pleasingly to Him, and more effectively from my heart. It is with this in mind that I dare broach this subject. John 4:24 tells who God is and how we are to worship Him. “God is Spirit.” When I delved into that I was shockingly disappointed. In my ignorant years I anticipated the day I would see Him face to face, fall before Him, and cast my crowns at His feet. I thought that while I could not see His face on this earth I would certainly do so in Heaven. Well, this is where we dig. “God is a spirit, for He is an infinite and eternal mind, an intelligent being, incorporeal [having no material body or form], immaterial, invisible, and incorruptible. If God were not a spirit, He could not be perfect, nor infinite, nor eternal, nor independent, nor the Father of spirits” (Matthew Henry Commentary).
God is infinite, but I shaped Him to fit my finite ideas! My worship may have been true yet it was not pure and entire. No wonder I was left wanting, cold and dissatisfied when I “worshipped.”
Whom are we to worship? Idolaters worship natural objects such as the sun and moon or the works of their hands, as images made of wood which they can hold. Those of perplexed minds have worshipped an “Unknowable God.” We Christians worship the God who is revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Who is He?
“God as the Spirit, apprehended [seized] not by the senses, but by the soul. The Divine Being, spiritual in nature, everywhere present, everywhere conscious, everywhere acting, is the proper Object of human worship” (The Pulpit Commentary). Ponder that for a long time. It is profoundly deep.
“God the Father, who is not distant and unapproachable, is very near. To Whom we owe our being, who supplies our wants, exercises over us a constant care, and trains us for the future by a moral discipline. Such is the affectionate relation which is sustained to us by the great Object of our adoration” (The Pulpit Commentary). Ponder some more. Ponder deeply.
If we do not worship God, who is spirit, we neither give Him the glory due His name, nor do we perform an act of worship (Mat. 15:8).
God has credentials! When we really know Him and what He is constantly doing for us, we will worship Him in spirit and with sincerity. Our hearts and His will be knit together in a bond that is inseparable and unexplainable. Know Him. Study Him. Praise Him. Worship Him.
Monday, April 7, 2014
Dear friends, it is with profound enthusiasm that I approach this subject of worship. At the same time I realize that my enthusiasm far exceeds my ability; therefore, I have bowed low before the Spirit of God, deeply studied His Word, and referenced several commentaries. I feel that, as yet, I have merely scratched the surface.
“In some form, worship is all but universal. Wherever on earth man is found there he presents to the Power above the offerings of his devotion. Doubtless there are cases without number in which worship has degenerated into mere superstition. Yet, where worship is at its best, it is one of the very highest manifestations and exercises of human nature. Much has been said by philosophers, by poets, by theologians, concerning the nature and the virtue of worship. But more light has been cast upon this subject by Jesus, in the few words recorded to have been spoken by Him to the poor Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar, than has been yielded from every other source. Few portions of our Lord’s discourses have been more quoted or more admired than this. But the world has still much to learn from these memorable sayings” (The Pulpit Commentary).
For a few weeks I have been focusing on the discourse of the ignorant, despicable, thirsty, Samaritan woman who sought for that which could assuage her thirst. Little did she realize her actual need. God did know and set up a series of events that would lead her to recovery.
I am so thankful that God has imparted wisdom to men (and women) to help us delve deeper. The Pulpit Commentary has been my source for this meditation. (Ladies, I can’t impress enough the necessity of using a reputable commentary.)
The study of these thoughts from the Sychar experience focus on worship (cf. John 4: 5-24). Oh, how every woman of God needs to learn how to worship our Father in spirit and in truth! The Word instructs us whom we are to worship, how we are to worship, when and where we are to worship, and why we are to worship.
Our portrait is not a pleasant one. We are poor, needy, helpless women, but we are the objects of God’s quest. To Him nothing is more precious than our souls. The Holy Spirit groans and longs to reach out to help us. Why don’t we find time to be in His Word so that He can teach us? Oh no, we will never merely find time. We have to ignite the discipline of making concentrated time.
It is hardly fair to make a need known without giving guidelines to help you in your study. That will be the touchstone of our next topics. In the meantime, please give time to think and pray about your involvement with the Lord and His Word covering the subject of worship -- to Whom, how, when, where, and why. He will teach you.
I have been spellbound by my study of Jesus’ and the Samaritan woman’s Sychar experience and so much want to share my study with you. Please pray for me as I delve into the riches of God’s gold mine.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Joy is medicine to the heart, to the soul, and to the body. Joy is a “spa” to the physical and spiritual entities of life. Joy brings health and healing.
My morning Bible study for some time has been in the Book of Philippians -- and what a medicine it has been! My prayer is that you might take time to grasp the principles of joy that this treasure book provides. “If you master the truths in Philippians, you should be filled with joy as you live the Christian life,” suggests Warren Wiersbe.
The greatest joy killer is unbelief in God, in His Word, and in His promises. Peter provides the remedy. “(Jesus Christ) Whom , having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable” (1Pet.1:8). Thomas believed after he touched Christ’s resurrected body (John 20:29). Peter heard those words and now repeats them. That depth of faith brings joy because it gives confidence and assurance. Have you ever thought that it would be more real if you could see Jesus, could touch Him, could hear Him speak? Probably. That brings us to the present joy of anticipation. Someday, by God’s time table! Glory!
What should we do until that day arrives? God’s inexhaustible gold mine gives us simple but not easy answers. As I turned the pages of my Bible the answer came. It is one that has carried me through many years. After my husband, Robert, unexpectedly died at the age of 43, I spent every opportunity that I could, searching Scripture to find answers and direction. I had two young sons to rear, a Master’s degree to complete, the responsibility to support three of us, and I was grieving the loss of the one dearest to me. God always gives answers to those who diligently, expectantly, and humbly seek. Phil. 3:13-14 was that direction.
Paul, who had the horrible memory of persecuting countless Christians did not live in his dispiteous past. He said, “ this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press [on].” In order to victoriously move on, grief could not be my focus. Grief could not consume me. But how could I forget eighteen years of marriage to the one with whom two sons were born, with whom eleven years were spent on the mission field (the fulfillment of our heart’s desire), the one whom I helped support through seminary, and so much more?
This is how I put Phil. 3:13,14 to work for me. I did not want and I could not possibly forget numerous day-by-day precious memories. I would treat them like a book to be put high up on a shelf. To know that book was there was a comfortable feeling; however, I would not take it down and open its pages. There were numerous books to be read and profited by and enjoyed. But only the Word of God, the will of God, and the purposes of God would lead me step by step into the then unknown future. I opened my heart, my mind, my will, and my focus on Jesus. I would move onward and upward with Him and for Him. He has not failed.
“Lord, disperse my sin and sadness. Speak salvation to my heart.
Then I’ll serve with joy and gladness. Then I’ll show how good Thou art.”
Monday, February 3, 2014
“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). Thank you Lord! The 8th chapter of Nehemiah is extremely important because it tells of spiritual revival among God’s people through Ezra’s public reading of God’s Word. The people were weeping when they heard God’s laws and how far they had strayed from His instructions. Nehemiah, Ezra, scribes, and others told them they were to be filled with joy because the day was a holy day. This was to be a celebration day. They were to take their eyes off themselves, even their sinful selves, and think about God and about others. “‘This day is holy unto the Lord, your God’ ... Then Ezra said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared [those in need] for this day is a holy day unto the Lord. Neither be ye grieved; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”
This instruction caused me to blink several times before I could accept it. Perhaps you are wondering as well. The people were right in taking the Word of God seriously. There is a proper time and place for everything. But the people were not to be overwhelmed with grief. This was a celebration. The celebration feasts were to be kept with joy. Of all their yearly celebrations, only the Day of Atonement was for mourning and fasting. Note the ratio. One celebration for mourning and several feasts for rejoicing.
There is a time and place for everything as we walk in obedience to God and His Word. We don’t badger ourselves when God has a positive purpose for us to experience, grow from, and enjoy. Long terms of discouragement, frustration, murmuring, complaining, downcast spirit, and turmoil will wreak havoc with our health. Worse than that, it displeases God Who has provided freedom from all such sins. Jesus Christ is at God’s right hand interceding for us. Oh joy, joy, joy!
As I have mentioned before, the application of scripture must go through the grid of my own heart before I dare share with you. How are we to deal with sin in our lives? We may have a period of deep sorrow and confession, but there is a next step. “If we confess our sin, He[God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn.1:9). We repeat that so glibly. There are reams of insights in that verse! Think about it. We confess and we are set free! Why should we not celebrate?
CHRIST HAS FOR SIN ATONEMENT MADE -- WHAT A WONDERFUL SAVIOR
REJOICE WITH JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY
Monday, January 6, 2014
A keen observer once said, “You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You handle your Christianity like a man with a headache -- he does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts him to keep it.”
That startling statement gives a person reason for serious pondering! It sent me to the Word of God via a commentary and I was awestruck when I clustered the OT joy pearls together. Reference is made to trees singing together (1 Chr. 16:33). Job speaks of the morning stars singing together and causing the sons of God to shout for joy (Job 38:7). God causes the dawn and the sunset to shout for joy (Psa. 65:8). Meadows and flocks sing for joy (Psa. 65:12). Mountains shout for joy at the name of their Father God (Psa. 69:12). Rivers clap their hands (Psa. 98:8). The Psalmist admonishes all the earth to shout and sing praises of joy (Psa. 98:4). Did you know that? I had never thought it through. Now that I have, it boggles my mind.
One big question loomed up, i.e., if the Lord God uses inanimate objects to sing and shout for joy, what is wrong with Christians (myself included) who so often seemingly have nothing to rejoice about? Why don’t we exude the joy of the Lord all the time? Yes, when children stray; when separation occurs; when we are jobless; when a loved one dies; when our cat is lost; when a tire goes flat? Certainly we are people with emotions. Is that the only reason? Could it be that our focus is misplaced?
Perhaps one of the first verses that comes to mind when we think of joy is James 1:2, which stands as a conundrum until we give it serious and biblical application. Certainly, we don’t rejoice because we are in a comfort zone. We ought to look to God’s purpose for allowing affliction rather than to the affliction itself. When we set our mind on Christ, the answers to all things come together. He immediately whispers (or shouts) the assurance that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It is then that I can assuredly sing , as does all the earth, “Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art.”
Let’s further look into James chapter one and verse two. What are the benefits /graces/blessings of suffering? Psychology may instruct us to be calm under our troubles, but God tells us to rejoice knowing that they come from a loving and not furious God. Even Job testified, “Happy is the man whom God correcteth” (Job 5:17). God, in His expressions of love, has other blessings in correction. “I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake you, nor relax my hold upon you--assuredly not” ( cf. Heb. 13:5). Faith comes from focus on the promises of our heavenly Father.
The trial of faith works patience (v.3). “The trying of one grace produces another; and the more the suffering graces of a Christian are exercised, the stronger [the Christian] grow[s].” When has patience had its perfect work? “When we bear all that God appoints, as long as He appoints, and with a humble obedient eye to Him, and when we not only bear troubles, but rejoice in them, then patience has its perfect work.” It is then that we shall be perfect and entire and wanting nothing (v.4). That spells J-O-Y. May we work towards its perfection in 2014.