If we be sheep in God’s immense pasture…

If we be sheep in God’s immense pasture – we mere sheep and He being Shepherd- then my prayer for 2016 is that we sheep go back to school, and let God, be the One who Be the Teacher!

If it is true that the ‘fear of the Lord’ is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, then who are we kidding? The first place to start, dear Lord is a prayer, that you teach us this year, Your holy name to fear. Not ‘fear’ in fear but in reverential ‘awe’ and love. Oh, ‘Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name’ –  teach continually what all this means!

Put in our hearts a Godly sorrow that leads us to repentance – a ‘turn around’ of sorts, being humble and gentle,  emptying us of ourselves that can prove to be hard and sharp,that we might be anointed with the oil of forgiveness that our cups overflow…

That by emptying and letting go, and losing our lives, so to speak, that You would fill us, and fill us and fill us with love abounding, that Your love would flow like a fountain and then in great power, move our feet!

Teach us this year, in 2016, the way of the Lord – ‘gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding – abounding in love, abounding in mercy, arms open wide with love.  Forgiving iniquity and forgiving sin…’ This is the Way, the Truth and the Life, This is our hope and peace and our Joy:  You  – offer –  forgiveness!

Is there anything in this world more wonderful than that?!

So, dear God, teach us again and again, that to say, “I love You,” in return,  is done without words, but shown… through obedience.

May Your sheep hear Your Voice, and in humility and care, follow You, and be lead to the cross, each and every minute of the day, ‘likened as sheep’ which so easily forget – let us  remember that THAT is what LOVE looks like – Your willingness to surrender…

to surrender: “Not my will but Yours be done.” With Your  heart on us, and Your eyes on Your Father…

May Your sheep hear Your voice: ” I am the good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own…And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

We prayer for ourselves that You help us remember: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…” That in 2016, minute by minute, hour by hour, month by month we follow, You, good Shepherd, and in fear and great awe, we be made whole!”

In Jesus Name, Amen, amen, and amen over and over again!

An old speech, an old hymn might very well best bring this new year in:

A grandfather of sorts to this nation at this time, Billy Graham’s speech is perhaps, timeless and appropriate even now for us all.

 Fifteen years ago, Sept. 14th, 2001, only days after terror hit our nation, Billy Graham was asked to  speak to a nation with bleeding hearts. So, today, with ‘troubles abounding’ – terror threats and christian rights being taken away, and foundations being broken…I share his words AGAIN, as we begin year 2016:

“We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be. The Bible says that He is “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.”

No matter how hard we try, words cannot express the horror, the shock and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tues morning…

But today we come together in this service to confess our need of God. We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation. But today we need Him especially. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God.

The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have.

We’ve seen so much that brings tears to our eyes and makes us feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

What are the lessons we can learn?

First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I have been asked hundreds of times why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I do not know the answer.  I have to accept , by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering.

The Bible says God is not the Author of evil. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 the Bible talks about the mystery of iniquity. the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

The lesson of this even is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but second, it’s about our need for each other.

What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days! None of us will forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, or the hundreds of people standing patiently in line to donate blood…

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope-hope for the present and hope for the future.
Yes, there is hope. There is hope for the present because the stage, I believe, has already been set for a new spirit in our nation.

We desperately need a spiritual renewal in this country, and God has told us in His Word, time and time that we need to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way.

There also is hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. That is the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if those people who got on those planes or who walked into the world Trace Center or the Pentagon on Tuesday thought that it would be the last day of their lives. And that’s why we each must face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us the symbol of the cross. For the Christian, the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering, for He took them upon Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. From the cross God declares, “I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pain that you feel. But I love you.”

The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ conquered evil and death and hell. Yes, there is hope.

I’ve become an old man now, and I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago.

Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young closed his talk with a quotation from the old hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.”

This week we watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass and the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of prosperity and creativity. When damaged, those building plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet, underneath the debris, is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked, buildings destroyed, lives lost. But now we have a choice: whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nation; or to choose to become stronger through all of this struggle, to rebuild a solid foundation.

And I believe that we are starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. And in that faith, we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we have experienced this week. This has been a terrible week with many tears.

But it also has been a week of great faith. In that hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” the words say, “Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed, For I am thy God, and will give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and that as we trust in Him we will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us.

We know also that God will give wisdom and courage and strength to the President and those around him. And this will be a day that we will remember as a day of Victory.

May God bless you all.”

(2 Cor. 1:3-4, Ps. 46: 1-2, Jeremiah 17:9)

The Hymn: How Firm a Foundation (From A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, by John Rippon, 1787; attributed variously to John Keene, Kirkham, and John Keith.)

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

May 2016 be a year where the Foundation is laid, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day in our hearts and our minds as we draw ever nearer the LORD! Praying for us all, that God helps us keep focused-because the King is Come in our hearts and our lives, and we need to ‘preach the gospel’ in every land that we might all be ready – the Bride, for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! Revelation 19:6-9:

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

May God richly bless you with His powerful Spirit to help you walk step by step in His presence and joy. In His love I pray for my children, my family, my friends, and all the people this year that God lets me meet, toni

this mama’s letter never changes…

I wrote, ‘A letter to my children this Christmas’ 5 years ago. This letter unveils a lot of mystery, and it’s the same through the ages, ‘A letter to my children this Christmas’ too:

There is a lot of mystery – even in family – but I would like to unravel some of it for you. You see, I grew up with ONLY the fairy tales. I grew up with the ‘fingers’ crossed’ and the blown up Easter Bunny and Santa Clause coming to town, and also the tooth fairy – but the fears and the insecurities and then anger rooted itself so deep in me that there was no way out.

All the ‘believing’ I was doing was only in things like ‘vapor in a cloud’ so to speak. When I reached for what I thought had substance to hold on to, it would simply vanish into thin air.

I moved far away from my home in Arizona, all the way to NYC, and the ‘mess’ that was inside me was working its way to destroy every bit of life in me. The ‘mess’ manifested itself in an eating disorder. My life became unmanageable.

I wasn’t seeking God. I never thought about God – but He knew me and He was watching me. When I was younger, I wanted to be close to God, but, it was just in my mind. I never took hold of Him with my heart. I was 17 inches away from relationship with Love.

So, in a ‘mess of desperation’, one dark and dreary day…and I’m not talking about the levels of sunshine in the weather, I walked into a room filled with people with the same struggles and I read a poster on the wall – with only one word: GOD.

(Now this is a mystery), the one written word, “GOD”, was the beginning of the rest of my life. You see, I needed something that had substance to hold on to with my whole being – all the other ‘stuff’ I was leaning on was just ‘vapor’.

I knew I needed help. And somehow, on that dark and dreary day, I realized ‘GOD’ had ‘rolled back the clouds that I might see the Light. I went and bought The Book at the local bookstore…

He, (meaning God), drew me to Himself. And through time, He, (yes God), healed me completely. He saved me from the ‘self-destructive’ path I was on. He unveiled Himself as I hungered for His Word, the Bible – and He, Yes God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – He raised me up out of a pit and set my feet upon a Rock.

Jesus gave me my life back after I gave Him the mess that was left of it.

So, that is why, when we had our first baby, we chose to spend time on giving you something that you could REALLY hope in and believe in. To hope and believe in God, because He is real!

And it is ONLY because of Him and the work that He had done in our hearts and lives that we had more, (OK, and more and more…) children! So kids – you are here – because JESUS was our substance, (your dad and I, and He still is!) Past, present and prayerfully, future! Jesus is the One we put our hope in everyday.

So, if you ever wonder WHY we didn’t spend time, (any time, for that matter,) on the tooth fairy or Santa Clause, (and it seems like a great mystery to you), at least now you know. I wanted to spend time and energy on the ‘unspoken’ stories about God. I wanted you to know the truth that I didn’t know when I was young, so perhaps you would be spared some of the ‘struggle’.

But God allows the ‘struggle’, I can see now. He wants you to discover Him for yourself, in a whole different way.

He knows you. God knows your name. He cares for you. His love and His power and His might, they will never vanish away. His phone is never busy. He is always there for you when you call out His name:

(Jeremiah 33:3), “Call unto Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not of.”

He is the Creator of all things. He has a plan for you… (Jeremiah 29:11), ‘Plans not to harm you,  but to give you a future and a hope.’

“Nothing is impossible with God. And nothing will ever separate you from His love. He loves…He is love.

So call His name this new year, with each new month, each new day, each new hour. God loves you so much, and He looks forward to your times to-gether!

I love you all so much, and Jesus loves you most. I just want you to know that forever. I am so blessed to be called… your mom.

P.S. (So, forgive me if you ever feel that you ‘lost out’ at Christmas or when your teeth fell out! God is bigger than all that! I pray  that in knowing Jesus, you can share a beautiful smile and His love beams through your life so you can have a giving heart as big as Santa Clause!)

 

God Himself speaks and unveils the mystery…

God Himself tells all, to all, who will hear His Voice this day.  Hidden in the treasury of  the’God breathed’ message, (King James Version of choice), God Himself speaks poetically, with mystery, with awe and supernatural clarity- His plan… His-Story in Isaiah 53.

Even a child can discern and understand and be enlightened and see the whole  of its meaning, when God, the Creator unveils super-natural understanding, to those He knows will, in time… believe:

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

Perhaps it has not happened yet, perhaps the report isn’t ‘believed’. But there comes a day, when the ‘arm of the LORD’ touches and speaks,…”this –  is –  Me.” “It is I, don’t be afraid” I am with you, ‘Immanuel’, ‘Jesus’, ‘I AM’ He.”

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2). Words like ‘tender’ and ‘dry ground’ with ideas of ‘no beauty’ and ‘undesireous’- the message here is ‘approachable’ and ‘relate-able’. Perhaps an image of a baby born with no bed to sleep with a mother poor whose heart will weep…

the truth be told after many ‘lies have gone out,’ but the Father’s report never changes. Not at all, never a change, the same Story of a Lamb, the Scarlet thread  is sewn throughout:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from  him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53 verse 3 to be exact. And God speaks the mystery in poetry that some might hear the message and turn their heads and act.  That they might hear the report that has been given, and allow the arm of the LORD to touch all that’s been dis-located and broken:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions,

he was bruised for our iniquities,

the chastisement of our peace was upon him; 

and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4,5).

God-breathed words: ‘carrying griefs’ and ‘sorrows’, ‘bruised’ and ‘wounded’… human ears hear and understand these words, but the lie is, ‘God cares less’ … oh, how these lies bring oppression, great darkness and distress!

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

There are no ‘good people!’ There are no ‘bad people!” ‘There is only One good, and that is God,’ Jesus said in the Bible.  Sin was ‘laid on Him.’ ‘The iniquity of us ALL was laid on HIM.’ Those who believe are washed white as snow, through grace alone – ‘faith’ being the ‘work’ – In believing- He ‘hath laid on Him’ all our sin…’ALL on HIM.’

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

“He was taken from prison and from judgement: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cutoff out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”(Isaiah 53:7,8). “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9).

Do we really need interpretation? Isn’t it that we just need to hear…

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; (Isaiah 53:10). 

What kind of God is this? This is a Father in heaven who loves His own Son, but so loves the world – the you, the me, the mamas, the sons, the daughters, the dads, and all of the lonely, hurting people too. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” The ‘work’ has been done!

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the lORD shall prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10).

You might argue and say, “this makes no sense at all!”  But let God speak, let Him explain it all:

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11).

These aren’t just words! This is not religion! This is life! John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29).  

Behold: ‘see, observe, view, look at, watch, survey, witness, regard, contemplate, and inspect’ – “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…for he shall bear their iniquities.”

God speaks so powerfully and true. Ask Him for yourself what all this means to you:

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

Jesus, laid down His life so you might live. There is no work on earth you can do to please the Lord, except to ‘believe His report!’

C.H.Spurgeon was touched by the arm of the LORD, and wrote and expounded on the word that God spoke. Do you want to hear the poetry that flowed from his heart after receiving God’s message in Isaiah 53:

“Nature with open volume stands, To spread her Maker’s praise abroad; And every labour of his hands Shows something worthy of a God.

“But in the grace that rescued man His brightest form of glory shines; Here, on the cross, ’tis fairest drawn In precious blood and crimson lines.

Here I behold his inmost heart, Where grace and vengeance strangely join, Piercing his Son with sharpest smart, To make the purchased pleasures mine.” (C.H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible).

So, perhaps, you suffered ‘little’, to read the words, that God breathed out for us all. God gave His most Precious, for us sinners, us ALL!

Bless Him this day to stop working for salvation, and receive His Gift -Jesus whose body our sins have been laid – and let us have faith to believe that He has washed us all clean, that we are now free to love and forgive as we journey along, and let us grow in His love as we hunger for His word, and let us be strengthened with hope for the day by His song. And the hardest part yet, but great blessings are promised, if we trust and obey – let us OBEY Him NOW! Listen to His report, and let His hand lead us onward!

 

 

S.O.S…Psalm 73:25,26 and the power of devotion…

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…” (Selah, pause and think quietly upon this – this whole day, moment by moment, minute by minute…)

With a heart that weeps, with great sadness all around…I open my devotions to C.H. Spurgeon, to help me understand what to do with great clouds of sadness when holiday gatherings and festivities abound:

“JESUS WEPT. John 11:35. Lazarus was dead, but Jesus was going to raise Him (John 11:11). Lazarus/ resurrection was at hand, yet Jesus wept (John 11:35). We are sometimes told that if we really believe our friends will rise again, and if we really believe they are safe and happy, then we should not weep. Why not? Jesus did.

And there cannot be any error in following Jesus’ example. Jesus knew that Lazarus’ death was for God’s glory. He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Still He wept.

Have you ever thought it wicked to weep at a loss that will glsorify God? It is not wicked. If it were, Jesus would not have wept under similar circumstances. Tears, which might have been regarded as contraband, now have free admission into the realm of holiness because “Jesus wept..”

Dear friend, you may weep because “Jesus wept.” He wept with the full knowledge of Lazarus’ happiness, with the full knowledge of his resurrection, with the firm assurance that God was glorified through this death. We may not condemn what Christ allows. If you can weep and thank God, if you can weep and know that you are in His presence, then your weeping is not sinful. Let your tears roll in floods. This is good instruction.

May the Holy Spirit teach us. May the Lord write it on every weeper’s heart. you may weep because “Jesus wept.” (From C.H. Surgeon, Beside Still Waters).

So, I flip the page, and my tears do flow, but I read on and the Comforter touches me, to the depth of my soul:

“DO NOT BE TROUBLED. John 14:1. “All too often, we believers watch the gathering clouds and forecast storms and anticipate troubles. Some of us confess that times of depression are coming. We see our business slipping away, and we worry about the future. We worry about our children, for we see the various tendencies in young people, and we worry about the way they will go. Our health declines, and we wonder what to do when the disease gets worse. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ concels us, “Let not your heart be trouble” (John 14:1).

Do not fear! Has not God helped you in every plight already? When we cast our cares on the Lord, to do as He wills, at no time will He be unkind. He will never put us in the furnace unless He intends to purge our dross, and the furnace will not be one degree warmer than is absolutely necessary. Mercy will always balance misery; strength will always support burden. The Lord is our friend; He will never be our foe.

Cheer up! “Do not fear little flock,” shake off your fears and rejoice, “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The road  may be rough, but the end is sure. We are going to the kingdom, to a land where all the believers will be princes and kings. Take heart. What difference does it make if our accommodations are sparse, if the passage is rough, if the winds boisterous? There is a kingdom ahead? Make the best of the voyage. Do not be fainthearted, but sing:

‘With a bag on my back and a staff in my hand, I march on in haste through an enemy’s land; The way may be rough, but it cannot be long, So I’ll smooth it with hope, and I’ll cheer it with song.” (C.H. Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters).

So in quiet time with Jesus, I wept with Him still, and I read on in devotion with my heart weak and frail. And He Comforted me and met me right where I am, (Past tense and present)  and He says, “Take hold of My hand. I will lead you, I will guide you, I will fill you with all you need. Trust me, dear child. You are Mine, and I Am yours,… for now and always, for all eternity!  Yes, I Am yours and  you are Mine…weep if you must, but Remember always, I AM the broken Bread, and the poured out wine. Hungry and empty? I Come to fill you FULL – be filled with my Fullness of Spirit from above, be filled to overflowing with faith, hope and love. But if ‘your heart and flesh fail’, don’t fret, it only causes harm, but remember always, I AM the ‘strength of your heart and your portion forever’. I love you today, I love you tomorrow, I will be with you in joy and I am a present help in your sorrow.” (Jesus).

 

The important is never urgent.

The important is never urgent…’

“Right here! Right now! Deadlines – are No fun! But deadlines are  good, (and it’s a fact most of us know), that without the ‘deadline’ nothing would get done.

But it is also quite true, if we can just remember, that the important is never urgent. The ‘important’ is never

u-r-g-e-n-t.  ‘The Important’ sometimes waits on and on…

So today, “Lord, will you slow down my step and illuminate what’s important. What’s important to You? Please make it important to me. And dear Lord, about all this important stuff, will you give me a heart of urgency?”

In Your name I pray, Lord Jesus Who shows me how…but may the light go off and I ‘get it’ somehow.”

 

An upside down kind of ‘happy!’

“Blessed,” (or ‘happy’), are the poor in spirit…” Matthew 5:3.

How can that be? Whatever does this all mean? “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Some words have been penned, many years ago, by a late Rev. Johnson Oatman. He was told the story of how Rev. Daniel Curry once dreamed that he had died and now stood before  the Judgement.

You’ve probably never heard these words, in that they were written so long ago, but they are amazingly powerful, you will see-

because in the end, even if  we have not much to show on earth, if we have a ‘Friend that sticks closer than a brother’, we see, that He will answer for me:

“Who will answer for me, when, life’s battles all past, I shall stand at the bar of the Judgement at last, When before me the Judge of all nations I see, In that terrible hour, who will answer for me?”

“Oh, how dark all my past, as from there I look back. Many sins and mistakes will count on my track, Scarce a single good deed on my record I see, And I cry in despair, “Who will answer for me?”

Justice there will I see with the scales in her hand, And I know I shall quake as upon them I stand; Weigh’d and found wanting” there, as no doubt I shall be In my weakness and fear; – Who will answer for me?”

“When the Judge shall at last call my name from the roll, And shall ask, “Who will answer for this guilty soul?” Then my Savior will turn with compassion t’ward me, And His sweet voice will say, I will answer for thee!”

Saviour, help me to walk close to thee day by day, When I hear thy commands may I trust and obey; While I live may I ever to thee faithful be, Then at last hear Thee say, “I will answer for Thee!” (Who will Answer for Me’ Rev. Johnson  Oatman,Jr.)

So, perhaps your heart is heavy and filled with great sadness. Perhaps you no friend near in sight. Perhaps you feel dark and so lonely inside, let these true words  bring in some light.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8). “Blessed, (or happy) is the people whose God is the LORD.” (Psalm 33:12).

Pour out your sadness to the God Who hears.  Pull up the Comforter of the Spirit as you draw and read His word. “Blessed, (or happy) is the man whose sins are forgiven.”  This treasure of joy is found in Psalm 32 verse 1. Let the God of compassion rain down the warmth and forgiveness of His Son.

Jesus gave His life, so that we might have it today. So let us ‘humble ourselves before the Mighty God of heaven, that He might lift us up’ and give us joy and victory. And in that hour, we will will know the answer to the hard and dark question: “Who will answer for me?”

We can hear His voice, even today and rejoice, ‘When the Judge shall at last call my name from the roll, And shall ask, “Who will answer for this guilty soul? We will see our Savior turn with compassion, and hear His sweet voice speak, …

“I will answer for Thee!”

“Blessed, (or happy) are the poor in spirit”, this is true, (when we know that He is good and we are not). He is the One, and we believe and thank Him – for this is ‘the kingdom of heaven!’

“Listen to this message from the LORD,…”

“Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands:

“The LORD, who scattered His people will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock. For the LORD has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them. They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights if Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the LORD’s good gifts-

The abundant crops if grain, new wine, and olive oil, the healthy flicks and herds. Their lives will be like a watered garden and all their sorrows will be gone.

The young women will dance for joy, and the men- old and young- will join in celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy.

I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. The priests will enjoy abundance, and My people will feast on My good gifts.” ( This is the word of the LORD, Jeremiah 31:10-14).

Did you hear what I hear?! I hear hope! I hear mercy and compassion. God is love!

But there is even more: “This is what the LORD says: “A cry is heard in Ramah- deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted – for her children are gone.” But now this is what the LORD says:

“Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the LORD. “Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope for your future,” says the LORD. “Your children will come again to their own land.”(Jeremiah 31:15-17).

God is all-knowing. We can trust Him completely.

 

The most beautiful gift that can ever be received…

…and I know you have the ‘Sunday School Answer’ right on your lips, and you’re thinking,” This is all she ever talks about, everyday-it’s Jesus.” But maybe you’ve never experienced insecurity and loneliness. Maybe you’ve never been surrounded by fears and anxieties or felt that deep ‘pit’ of darkness. Maybe your anger never rages inside, and maybe, you’ve got ‘it’ all under control…

well, not I.

But, it happened one day, for salvation from sin, and it happens everyday-over, and over again-“Help me!” I called, and on that day He answered me. And, “Help me!” I call and He’s right there, with me.

You see, the Father, He gave the Best Gift of all- oh no, He doesn’t ‘give peace’ He is PEACE after all! He doesn’t ‘give’ rest, He IS Rest when we call,…“He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.” 

After all of life’s struggles and opening of every other door, we finally grow tired and weary and ‘can’t take it anymore,’ so we Call out to Him and He rains down His Spirit of Truth, of power, of great authority…

and then we have to admit- “God loves…me.”

“For God so loved me He gave the greatest gift of all. He gave His Son, that my life might finally have purpose and shape and happiness and hope, that my life would be empowered to stop walking in darkness, and instead…walk in LOVE.

So, I guess it’s true, I think I play a 1-stringed guitar! I talk about Jesus, because He’s more than a Sunday School answer to me –  my deliverer, my fortress, my comfort, my Love. So, I sing and write and I talk of Him, it’s true -and  I pray and pray that you have the most blessed Christmas ever because this year, you receive the Gift of the Son, Jesus – He came for…you.

He came to bring salvation to all who would believe, and He also pours out His Spirit, if we ask Him and receive! No more will these ‘feeble hands’ hang down for us – this is a new day, and in this day we will trust. We will receive the love of Jesus and let it ‘splash’ from our lives! “Merry Christmas!” we can say, because Christ… He’s changed us inside!

“A Psalm of David, Psalm 138:1-8). “I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your Truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, when they hear the words of Your mouth. Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD. Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. 

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”

“Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray. bless all the dear children, in Thy tender care…and take us to heaven to live with Thee there!”

a poem, His word, a comfort today…

“Darkness and doubts had veil’d my mind, and drown’d my eyes in tears, Till, like the sun, my Savior’s face, Dispell’d my gloomy fears.

Oh, what immortal joys I felt, And raptures all divine, When Jesus told me I was his, And my beloved mine!

In vain the tempter frights my soul, And breaks my peace in vain; One glimpse, dear Savior, of thy face Revives my joys again.”  (This poem with power to change one’s mind,  is written by C.H. Spurgeon.)

This is Christmas time, with so much on our plate! How can we set aside time to seek the Lord’s face? He taught me so much when all thought ‘oh, this is ‘bad!’ “A ‘cancer diagnosis’, with chemo-(even during Christmas) oh such dread!” But, now, I can  tell you, God used it ALL for good! In every single bitty part, God used it as He would.

There is a story in God’s word in Luke Chapter 13, of a woman who had been sick 18 long and painful  years. She was ‘bowed down’ in her spine. This poor woman couldn’t stand and hold her head up, her face couldn’t be seen.

But “Jesus saw her, and called her to Him, and said, “Woman, you are loosed from your sickness and pain.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she lifted her spine again.” (Luke 8:11-13, paraphrased by me), but there is only a comma, that wasn’t the end of the sentence, “and she glorified God,” – THEN the sentence was complete!

Let the stories encourage your heart, let the poems bring a hunger deep inside, to draw nearer to Jesus than ever before – even waking and reading His word before you pass out your door:  “Jesus saw her…

and He sees you too. He knows everything about us, E-V-E-R-Y-THING. So, most likely we are all like this woman, who had suffered many years, and was bowed over, and couldn’t even stand…we all are like this woman in Luke 8, but Jesus saw her, and called her to Him.

And that is what He does, time and time again. We are not all physical, we have emotions and a mind.They each need a touch from the Lord, each has hunger and sickness, each need healing, each in its own time. Body, mind and soul…each find themselves at different times bowed down very low – ‘But Jesus saw, and called her to Him,’ and He graciously touched her with His beautiful hand and immediately healed her, so she now could stand! Stand and give glory, give glory to God because He had touched her with His righteous right hand.

Oh, that we hear His call of love and compassion. Oh, that we would look up to see His grace-filled eyes. Oh, that we would stop and breathe in His presence and be loosed from sickness and pain. Oh that, having faith to believe He is right here! This is how He immediately ‘loosens’ our bonds, this is how He eases the pain.
Our gracious Jesus, He heals everything!

In vain the tempter frights my soul, And breaks my peace in vain; One glimpse, dear Savior, of thy face Revives my joys again.

Oh, what immortal joys I felt, And raptures all divine, When Jesus told me I was his, And my beloved mine!

In vain the tempter frights my soul, And breaks my peace in vain; One glimpse, dear Savior, of thy face Revives my joys again.”  (What a wonderful encouragement, from CH Spurgeon).