Questions arising from the Book of Beginnings

Questions come quickly, as the Book is opened a-new.“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the first verse of 31 thousand, one hundred and two.

A choice must be made right from the start: “Yes, I believe in God,” or  “What man wrote this book?” It’s about matter – a matter of the heart.

Believing God created is impossibly difficult for some, but for others, it’s reasonably easy, when time is invested in studying the eye or perhaps, the sun.

“In the beginning God, …” the first four words of this Book. Well, a Book of Books I suppose, in that the Contents lists 66, (if you take the time to look.)

Do you remember ever receiving a Bible? With your name in the front and all? I received one at my kindergarten graduation, with cap and gown, standing tall.

But don’t forget this one thing, dear friends, (2 Peter Chapter 3 verse 8),  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Does that mean that, to the Lord, I received my Bible only hours ago. And He’s watching and waiting as I journey on and walk my way through this world.

So back to those words, that start things out: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1 verse 1.  A new beginning for me, with big questions, I seek to find – what it’s all about. 

So I took the time to look more at “God” and what that word really means. The divine name is in Hebrew, to be exact – Elohim. Elohim stresses majesty and omni-potence. And the ‘im’ is especially interesting, in that it’s a plural ending in a singular sense.

God is one, yet more than one? Even in the very first verse. Who is this God who created? Created the heavens and the earth. I learned this when I was five, even though I forgot it then, again – that God is 3 in 1. Today, it all comes alive.

God created. He called into existence things that were not. I can make a gift, or bake a cake. But God, He creates something to be, through the very power of God.

Faith is needed to get past the first verse. Faith is believing, without ability to see. But when we look up and ask, and give Him our questions, He answers somehow – as our eyes look searching, the Universe … We wonder, and look, and we cry,”Let it be.”

The heavens, the sky, the vast space for our eyes. The canvas for beauty with every sunrise. With every sunset, the horizon is seen. Back to earth are our questions, for God, Elohim.

Questions are good. God must love them from us. So let us open His pages, each day of our lives, that we might struggle and fuss with the Lord who loves us.

How do I know about the Lord’s love for you? Surely you remember the lullaby song, when you were restless and weary, an infant child too. Yes, Jesus loves me, I want to grow in that love. And yes, He loves you. Perhaps, daily, we read together His word.

 

 

 

 

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Beginnings

New years. New months, new days, new moments. Refreshing beginnings. All things new.

Do we open the Book? Will we glean something new?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1.

What’s it all about? What does this have to do with me? I have so much to do, and don’t we already know what this Book says. But my eyes keep reading the very next verse,

And the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep.

Void and darkness already? Isn’t God in control of all things? Didn’t He create and everything was magical and perfect? How in the world was there void and darkness even before verse 3? Do we read and have questions like these?

Is God aware of my questions and doubt?

All I know is, it seems words like void and darkness could be used to describe me. Well, not when I’m putting my best foot forward, but the real me inside. This is me, as I feel void in my natural sense.  I sense darkness in my nature. What do you think? All I know, is, it seems at times, that there’s no escape.

So, my eyes continue reading the words on the page.

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1 verse 2. The Spirit of God moved.

God moved. Even without any other doing. In the midst of emptiness and darkness, He initiated a move. Apparently, He wasn’t in need of anything.

Today, as I read these words and I think, of my brain and my heart being 73% water, with emptiness and darkness caught up in the mix, (But), And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters … 

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light; and there was light.”

Today, this day, I’ve read from the Beginnings. I didn’t get far, but I felt something stir within me. Could this Book be more than black and white on a page? For you and for me, the Spirit of God moved.

I will speak for myself, I hear Him speak to me: “Let there be light; and there was light,” on that day. Thousands upon thousands of years ago then, but also today, hope has lifted her head, and my eyes and my heart have chosen to receive.

If this is the first day of the rest of my life, then I will choose to take some time to read this Book daily. I will ask God to shine light on my emptiness and fill up the void.

So, in curiosity, I looked up Jesus as light, and John 8 verse 12, is recorded When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

God initiates. Do I choose, moment by moment, to follow?

 

 

Finally, joy has come to this world of mine …

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing. O how the familiar words of Isaac Watts play over again in our minds, but it’s on a glorious moment –

when the dust of our own personal world, and the North wind has blown to make us cold, but we are tired of being broken and alone –

that we invite the King in. That we finally make room for Him.

And the angels in heaven sing. And our eyes suddenly see all of nature, with exotic colors, form and  beauty, form a symphony of song as we walk on our journeys.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy

Finally, when our flesh, says, to the LORD, “Yes.” The words of the hymn come alive. And the word ‘joy’ has meaning for the very first time. Deliverance comes when the fight finally ends. When the Savior at last, has the reins of our soul, and a miracle I witness, as I feel my world – whole.

Joy has finally come into my world, because room as been made, that the Great Surgeon can cut away, the hardness of heart, the criticalness:

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders, …

the wonder of His love for me, who, for so long refused to see – His truth, His grace, … His beautiful life He gave.  Joy to my world has come, with each new day, with each new breath.

Will you join my joyful chorus as well, and of the King and His greatness tell? We would sing together a joyful song:  “Joy has come to this world of mine. I will sing of my King for all – of  – time.”

 

 

brown paper wrapping with a scarlet chord

brown paper wrapping with a scarlet chord, amidst sparkling and glitter and silver and gold.

not chosen first. often chosen last – but when the gifts are all broken, all tired and worn, then on a lonely, cold night, the plain wrapping comes in sight.

Finally a curious glance at the scarlet red chord – and the question,”What’s it all for?”

To choose to pick up the package of brown, and loosen the scarlet chord tied around, feels uncomfortable, even painful in part. As if it’d be easier to simply quit, and not make a new start.

“I’m hungry. I’m in the dark. I don’t know which way to go. I need some guidance. I need a new life. I need breath -it’s time to grow.”

So, the choice is finally made, to take hold of the scarlet thread, and unloose the Gift that was given, of the Story that I’d only known, … in my head.

Great discovery was made – the boring package – magnificent – water and light and a sword for the fight. Gold and pure. Dispelling the lies.

God really cares. Even when I cared-less. When I refused to listen to His gentleness.

When I chose not to believe, and He wrote, “I believe in you.” With nail prints in His hands, He said, “I – believe – in you.” No matter what you do, I have paid your debt.  I Am truth.”

Now what? what do I do?

The package in brown, in Scarlet chord all around, is a mystery revealed in the pages of the Book.

Who wants to surrender against their own selfish will? “No one.” Is the answer. But He laid down His life on the cross. His is the example. Be still and know – He is God, and I am not. The Gift seems less, but it’s most. It’s not as I thought.

Jesus waits and watches: “Will they receive Me? Or will they not?”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, …” Jeremiah 29:11-14.

I am the bread of life. John 6:35 and 48. I am the light, John 9 verse 5. 

I am the resurrection and the life, John 11: 25.

I am the good shepherd. John chapter 10. I am the door. John 10 verse 11.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7 verse 7.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Do you believe this?” John 11:25 and  26.

“Will you receive Me?” Can you hear Jesus asking?

 

 

May I share a hidden treasure of a hymn-“It came upon a Midnight Clear”

Christmas hymns can become familiar and sterile, yet when the waves of a storm are greatly brought on, there is a searching that comes,

as we look for a glimmer of hope, or the light of the dawn.

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, That glorious song of old, From angels bending near the earth To touch their harps of gold. “Peace on the earth good will to man, From heaven’s all gracious King!” The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.”

The hymnal is opened, Edmund H. Sears work is displayed. “The world in solemn stillness lay? …” There is nothing in this world that is still, it seems, except for the broken in heart and children’s dreams.

But the flood has come, or we’ve been made to walk through the fire, but the hymn sings in our ears, the words of the angels: “Peace on the earth, good will to man, from heaven’s all gracious King!”

My eyes catch the words of the hymn-writer’s story, (thank you Robert J. Morgan for sharing, Then Sings My Soul, in this hymn book I was given.) Recorded are lost words not known, quite forgotten, (still sung with the same melody and rhythm:)

“Yet with the woes of sin and strife/ The world hath suffered long; Beneath the angel-strain have rolled/ Two thousand years of wrong; And man, at war with man, hears not/ The love song which they bring; 

O hush the noise, ye men of strife/ And hear the angels sing!”

I’ve been hushed. I’ve been striving against my Lord. Perhaps the brokenness has brought me life:  “O God, bring me to hear the angels sing. My vocal chords have been stilled for far too long. Dear Jesus, will you restore to me, Your song.”

And so, I read in my Christmas gift hymnal, a verse I’ve never in the past seen:

“For lo, the days are hastening on, By prophets bards foretold; With the ev-er circling years, comes round the age of gold. When peace shall o-ver all the earth, Its ancient splendors fling;

And the whole world give back the song Which now the angels sing.”

So perhaps, this ‘mid-night’ has been made clear, as my eyes caught the promise of the glorious King. God Almighty has restored to me sight, and brought back a song that was hidden in night.

I will sing of my King, and give back the song: “Peace on earth …” this earth that is me. This Christmas  has brought revival and song. Lord Jesus, my Savior, God with us, Immanuel – I bow my knee …

I bring my offering … to worship Thee, my glorious King.”

If you feel revival in heart is needed today, Admit your wrongs, Believe Jesus loves you, and Call out His name! He hears, He loves and forgives and restores. Jesus is here to give you life evermore.

Lame at the pool? God’s story resurrects us to move!

Have you heard the story that begins in John 5? Read it again, to refresh you mind: 

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which … called Bethesda … surrounded by five … colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.”

Perhaps, today we fit in some dis-abled body, blind in not knowing what direction to go, or which way is right. Lame, with brokenness that often brings fear and lonely nights. Or paralyzed, unable to make a move at all. Where fear makes the decisions, and faith has no call. Sheep we are, needing help at the gate. We believe we are victims, while the world whirls on.

Are our minds always doubting – is there no fear of God? Is there One who can make our crooked ways, straight? Read the story through – John 5 verse 8.

“One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.”

(Thirty-eight years? This thought in John 5 verse 4, can bring us to tears.)

 “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition … a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’

“Of course he does,” we say to ourselves, but then the next thought pierces through to our hearts: “Do you want to get well?”

 “Did Jesus just learn of our miserable plight? Have we not talked to Him, the One who is able? The One with All-Might?  Can we learn anything from this man’s excuse:

“‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool …  While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down …

ahead of me.’

Yes, I have to confess, that I look out for help, and not up so much of the time.

I am guilty  …

of going it alone, doing it ‘my way’. Fear makes the call, and I let Doubt speaks his mind.

 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’  At once the man was cured; …”

At once, the man was cured. Not in a day or a weak, but immediately! This is the Word of God in John 5 verse 8. Do we let the words sink in and believe? What did the man who met Jesus do?

Today, can I see that Jesus is talking to me, and possibly … you?

So much for ‘meek and mild.’ Jesus’ Words are power!

So what was the choice of the man at the pool near the gate, after Jesus met him and exhorted, “Get up and walk?”

” … he picked up his mat and walked.” This man couldn’t do that – but he did! He obeyed.

Do you want to be well?”  was the question from God. “Then ‘get up’ right now, and make no provision for failure. Move forward, away from this place.”

Jesus is here, Jesus is speaking. He is the One able and willing. “Today, today,  Lord Jesus I choose, to ‘go down’ in surrender – on my knees, yes today,…

to give up my fight. My fight against You. You’re the One who is able to forgive me and heal me and make me to stand. You give me sight, and strength to my soul. Jesus, I’m willing to turn to You and follow, with mat in my hand,

Faith-full, instead of Doubt-full – will You help me?

I believe,  Lord Jesus, You’ve got my tomorrow.

 

 

The evergreen, in the midst of night …

The evergreen is brought in, this time again. Adorned with lights, and gifts, and angels of white, baubles of red and garlands of thread. With my thoughts ringing, “Do not be afraid, …”  remembering what the angel said.

“So much has changed.” as I hang a nativity up on the tree. “Dear God, I need You to speak in such a time as this. Please don’t be silent. I’m tempted to doubt that I can get through this …

So I open up the story, told over and again, and I read the words of the angel to Mary, from a long, lost time, from way back when: “… for you have found grace with God … you will give birth to a Son and  you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High … and of his reign there will be no end.”

Luke Chapter 1 verse 33, Amplified. And, then You hear my heart cry, “Oh God, what does all this mean for me? In the midst of the night, let me hear, let me rest. Let me simply sit in this uncomfortable – ness!

So, I sit. In the night. But I marvel at the sight. Amidst anxious thoughts, wrestling to overthrow my rest and peace, I look upon the evergreen.

“For with God nothing is ever impossible, and no word from God shall be without power …” the Amplified version of Luke 1:37 speaks. I read them, and I wonder, “Do I believe?

Do I really believe the Word of God? Or only on sunflower days, and when the sod is soft and green. do I believe God when all seems against all my understanding?”

So as I look at the evergreen in the room. Adorned with lights, and gifts, and angels of white, I see the baubles of red, and remember the blood that was shed. I see the garland of thread, and think of the Good Word I have read:

Mary’s response to the news of the angel: “My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, …”

Somehow I forgot Luke 1:47. How could I miss the response that was given.

“Oh dear Lord, may I choose to rejoice as well, and worship You, for, …
 “…for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant …

for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.”

This is the story, Luke 1:48-50. These are the words breathed by God, to tell –

to tell me that today, even in the midst of night, that He is great and will extend mercy, even on me, all the same. “Give me grace, dear Lord Jesus, to magnify and give You my praise, through my heart’s tears and through the dark rain. The Son dwells in my heart forever. The Son Of God does great things,

and this Christmas, I will again, believe.

“O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Let us sing, “Joy to the World the Lord is Come . . .”

Do we hear the words anymore? Are they simply background ‘elevator’ type sounds as we busy ourselves in stores?

“Joy to the world the Lord is come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing.”  Isaac Watts in the 1700’s penned these words for Christmas. Oh, how these words must come alive again, they carry wisdom and remedy for our hearts in turmoil and war.

“No more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”

Is the soil of our heart parched and dry? Have the winter winds of trial and loss brought a sting of pain? Let us take the next weak breath and ask God for increased faith. Let us ask God to give us strength to sing.

“Joy to the world! the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ . . .”  

Has our song been drown by the pressures of life? God’s song in us, has it been silent through strife? Jesus came to heal, to forgive, to love. He is Savior, He has come for us.

How many ways can we sing, “Amazing Grace?” How many ways can we say “Hallelujah!”

He has come to make His blessing flow. He has come to heal broken hearts. He has come to forgive us of sin. He has come that we might have new life and sing once again.”So, let us sing, ‘Joy to the World, the Lord is Come.’

Let us sing, “Joy to my world!”

 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:11-13.

Can you, will you, brush away the tears?

This morning, you have a choice. Does your heart yearn for God, do you pray, “Speak LORD, Your servant hears.” (1) or do you think you already know the words He has to say?

The thorns and thistles of life have brought temptation – to doubt and believe the LORD has left you alone on your way.

I write for myself, these words are for me. But if by chance they are speaking to you, read on as we wrestle with God together. Are we God’s ‘fair weather friends’ or are we still His – when the floods come or it’s typhoon weather?

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . .” Psalm 23:1. Do you hear Him call you to trust Him deeper still? Do you hear Him, are you willing to obey His will?

But, “I’m wanting Lord.” You say in your heart. “I’m needy and helpless. I don’t know how to trust.”

But, there is a willingness inside. There is, though weak, you cry out beside:

“Speak Lord, Your servant is listening,”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs, the Book of wisdom. Chapter 3 verse 5 and 6. Do we dare submit and really believe this?

Believing God, is an Olympic feat, at best, “Make me to lie down and open my eyes that I might take notice that the pastures are green. Oh, God, I need rest.”

 Is this your prayer to the Lord in the morning? Will you be humble and yielded and give Him praise in the evening? What if nothing is going your way? Does that change God? Does that change your trust in Him?

We must remember, if ‘Jesus wept,'(2) then surely in this life, we will weep as well. “Dear Lord, don’t let my affliction grow greater than You. May I not seek sufficiency from wells, dry and broken, but may I go to You and listen to the words You have spoken.”

“Can you, will you, brush away the tears?” (I hear the Lord whisper this in my ears.)

 So will you reply, (as I ask myself this question), ‘Speak to me LORD, your servant hears.’ 

“But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”(3) I have spoken. Do not be tempted to doubt. I will fill you with My Spirit that your faith will abound. Will you choose to make me Lord and submit? This is the power of God to you. I offer it . . .”

“For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever.
 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
 For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.” “This is My word from Lamentations. (4) Walk in this. Give fear no reservations.”

We can, we will, you and I together will cast all our cares upon our Shepherd today, and feed on His faithfulness and all He has to say:

in Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul . . .  and Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

We can, we will remember God is able – for now and for all time.

 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”(5)

(1) 1 Samuel 3:9.

(2) John 11:35.

(3) Isaiah 43:1-3.

(4) Lamentations 3:31,32.

(5) Hebrews 5:7-9.

‘Health-ful’ thoughts for this Christmas

Every human being, as early as 2, experiences an earthly proverb: No pain, no gain.

The 2 year old desiring the prize must first pick up toys that are all over the floor. The 4 year old must spend time on their letters before being able to play. The 6 year old must do their reading before going outside.

The student must write that paper before the free time. Or what about picking up that instrument, even for 5 minutes before watching the game, etc., etc. We all know this story.

There is no gain, it’s true, unless their is a dying of some sort inside. Oh, that we would keep in the front of our thoughts and our mind – All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23.

In desiring to stay ‘healthy’ during this Christmas season, healthy inside and out, in mind and body we must first Stop and consider, which things go first, which things go next, one at a time. Or else we will be scattered and anxious and good for nothin’ and restlessness will take the reigns instead of enjoying this present moment and all God has for us.

What does all this have to do with ‘not gaining without pain?’ Everything . . .

You see we must first ‘stop- drop and turn from the fiery inferno of stress and we must first seek the Lord of our righteousness.

If it is true ‘we can do nothing’ without Him – the branch is nothing apart from the Vine-

Then we must abide and take shelter under the shadow of God’s wings, and seek His face and bring Him praise.

It’s painful for some to ‘be still’.  To ‘stop’ and pray. Praying is labor. It’s hard stuff.But it’s ‘health-full’ when we remember praying is profitable.

If a ‘Martha temperament’ is taking over- but ‘health’ is on the list for Christmas this year, we must move ‘Martha over’ for a moment or two and do the 1st work of prayer.
To seek the Lord’s face.

The Great Physician who created our beings, says: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. The Book of Matthew chapter 6 verse 33, speaks so simply . . .

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

  “Search me O God, and know my heart, try me and know my fears…” (Ps. 139:23). 

“I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby. Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh. I need Thee, O I need Thee. Every hour I need Thee. . .

O bless me now my Saviour, I come to Thee.”

Bless me with peace, that I abide in Your presence, . . .

You are the Prince of Peace – so first- in our Christmastime hustle may we make ‘health-ful decisions and seek Jesus continually, to guide us and fill us with His love, and that it will remain flowing. That, perhaps our present to our loved ones this year, will simply to be ‘living in the present, and ‘really be there’ this year.

Now that sounds like ‘great gain’ indeed. Great gain, when take time to pray.