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Archive for April, 2012

Refuge

Have you ever felt alone in the world?  Have you ever felt frightened by the future or even perhaps the present?  Have you ever just plain been weary and frazzled and needed comfort?  I know I have more times than I care to admit.

This morning in my quiet time I stumbled onto a verse that really spoke to me in a fresh new way.  (Isn’t God’s Word amazing?  I’ve read it cover to cover so many times in my lifetime, and still there are new discoveries each time!)  The verse to which I am referring is found in Proverbs 18 and is verse number 10.  It reads like this in the NIV:  “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

The words ‘strong tower’ and ‘safe’ put the picture of a lighthouse in my mind.  When Rick and I were in Maine last fall we visited a number of beautiful lighthouses, but what struck me was not their height and brightness as much as their strength.  They are built to withstand turbulent waves crashing against them and strong winds battering them and yet they stand strong and sure.

As I stood at the base of one I wondered what it would feel like to be living there.  What is it like in the dead of the night with the waves crashing against the outside and the wind beating against the panes?  Would you really feel safe there?  Would there be no fear at all?

As I read this verse this morning I realized that Christ is even more secure than the strongest lighthouse.  He is safe.  Living in Him, we have real security.  We have a refuge from the storms of life and we have security that we will never be cast out.  No wonder we have peace when we know Him personally!  No wonder we feel secure!

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”  (Psalm 18:2,3)

I’m thankful I am His!

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Forgiveness

This word has been playing itself over and over in my mind these past few weeks since Easter.  When I’m busy doing other things and my mind is perfectly occupied, the word ‘forgiveness’ pops into my head again.  We use the word ‘forgive’ and its many derivatives in many ways, but how often do we really mull it over to appreciate the full meaning of the word?  And have we really ever considered that true forgiveness is a key that simultaneously opens many locks to release a flood of joy?

As I’ve meditated on this word recently, it comes to my mind how very many times and in how very many ways I’ve been forgiven—by so very many people!  Sometimes I think that I err way more than most, and yet…my heart longs to be good and true and honest and pure.  I think of how many times I think I’m doing something good and it turns out to have been one of the stupidest choices and I ended up doing wrong instead of the good I longed to do!  I can SO relate to the apostle Paul when he says in Romans 7:21ff:  “So I find this law at work:  When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

Now years ago I accepted God’s forgiveness of my sins as a result of my confession to Him.  When I confessed my sinfulness to Him, He not only forgave all the sins I had committed, but He forgave my very sinfulness, my bent to sin, as well as all the sins I would commit in the future.  God’s forgiveness is total and complete.  His forgiveness is NOT a license to sin at will since I’ve already been forgiven, no, He saw into my heart to know that I was not only truly sorry for the sins already committed, but He knew I wanted to turn from sin, that I wanted to live for Him, to bring glory to HIM and to have peace with Him.  He also knew that it is not within my nature to be pure, but He was willing to accept my offering of a desire for purity—even though He knew that in this life true purity is impossible for me.

My head knows all this and my heart wants to accept it.  In fact, it seems that I can accept it for the most part, but why is it that sometimes in the dark of the night when I’m awakened for one reason or another, suddenly every sinful thing I’ve ever done in my life starts dancing in a parade through my mind and I wrestle with letting it go all over again?  I have to remind myself that it’s forgiven; that God doesn’t see it anymore.  But do you know, that is exactly when Satan reminds me that the people of this world sure do remember!  The ones I’ve hurt won’t forget.  Many times I have to discipline myself to forcefully accept God’s forgiveness all over again and force my mind to think of something else.  How I long for that parade of sins and errors to be cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness so deeply that even I can’t remember them!

But one thing that’s good about remembering my sinfulness is that when I am sinned against I immediately remember how far from perfect I am and I can more graciously forgive just as I long to be forgiven.  How dare I judge someone else?  How dare I hold their sins against them?  And then I have to think that if I were indeed able to forget my own sinfulness, would I deal more harshly with my fellowman?  Probably.  Would I think I was better than others?  Possibly.  Would I truly be able to know humility?  More than likely not.

And because of all this, I take quite personally this glorious message from Paul in Colossians 1:9-14:

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Yes, God can use it all to even make someone like me usable to Him and in His kingdom!  He is truly amazing.  And I am truly humbled.  And thankful.

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Easter week brings reminders of the reason we can enjoy wonderful peace and joy in our hearts!  Our peace and joy is not without a great price, but then, true treasures are generally very costly.

This week Rick and I traveled south to our son’s home to spend some time with them and as we drove home we passed a home that always has ‘over the top’ gaudy decorations for each season.  We looked at the huge inflated plastic eggs and rabbits and chickens and, well, just about anything tawdry you can think of in bright pinks, yellows and purples.  Now all those decorations cost a pretty penny I’m quite sure, but still, it doesn’t compare with the true cost of Easter.

It just makes me stop and think today…how can we really celebrate what Christ did for us?  Rick and I plan to go to church as usual, and have invited some families over to share a celebration dinner together in the afternoon, but today as I cut flowers throughout the gardens to adorn our festive table, I thought of the beauty of new life each spring.

Winter is such a dark and cold season, and in Virginia we don’t even seem to have the brightness of snow much to break up the short, dark rainy days.  But, when we think we can’t tolerate another cold, gray day, suddenly we awaken and the sun is shining and little green shoots start poking their heads through the ground.  Every day in the early spring I watch breathlessly until I start seeing the early daffodils and jonquils and then the tulips and hyacinths and campanula and now the columbine and forget-me-nots and irises and…well, it just blows my mind how quickly the beauty of new life makes one forget the dreariness of winter.

I remember before we had our first child I was told the joy of holding that little one in your arms made all the pain worth it all.  Well, when I held those little boys in my arms I couldn’t even remember any pain!  All I felt was the joy and love and wonder!

And it makes me wonder…when Christ welcomes a new child into His fold, does He forget the horror and pain of the cross?  Does He overlook the wretchedness of the time He spent in hell for us?  Does the love He feels for us soften the memory of what caused His scars?  Well, I really don’t know, but I do know I’ll celebrate His victory!  I’ll rejoice in His love!  And I’ll ever thank Him for His sacrifice!

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