Saturday, December 21, 2013

Keeping the WORD

Continuing on the shirttails of the last post . . .

Perpetual Sunshine in God's Presence
Tree of Life, with its life-giving fruit and healing leaves
Pure River of  Water of Life
Four times in the last book of the Bible it states very clearly that the ones who will be enjoying the above are those who
"keep the words of the prophecy of this book."
First Jesus Himself says it to John.
Then an angel says to John "I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."
Verse 14: "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city."
Verse 18: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:
 If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;
and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
I really try not to preach here, there are others who are much more qualified, but . . .
I am very afraid! 
I see brothers and sisters in Christ playing with God's Word:
-Trying to "update" it (Its author is not bound by time- His Word is timeless)
-Trying to make it more "appealing" to the world (The world won't be drawn to something that looks like its ugly self!  but to something that is much better!)
-Trying to make it less restricting (i.e. sin just isn't THAT bad)
Do they seriously think they can make one single word better than the Creator of the Universe??!!
And YES! God apparently IS serious about EVERY SINGLE WORD. None are to be ignored.
I'm not claiming perfection in the keeping of God's Word, but I hope that we all would WANT to keep it perfectly.
Nothing is worth missing out on Heaven.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

the tree of life revisted

Have you  noticed that the Bible begins and ends with the Tree of Life?
Adam and Eve had free access to it- it was their source of  immortality (Gen. 3:22)
When they sinned their real punishment was that access was denied.
"So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden,
and a flaming sword which turned every way,
to guard the way to the tree of life.  (verse 24)
The next time we read about the Tree is at the very end of the Bible:
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me,
 to give to every one according to his work.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.
Blessed are those who do His commandments,
 that they may have the right to
 the tree of life,
and may enter through the gates into the city."
Revelation 22:12-14
Life as a pilgrimage to get back to the tree of life.
I like that imagery.
Can you imagine the JOY of Adam and Eve being reunited with the Tree after their deaths?
Can you imagine YOUR JOY seeing it for the first time?!
"But I [John] saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
They city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. . . And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life . . ."    (Rev. 21:22-23; 22:1-2))
If I keep my mind focused on this glorious scene, how can I have anything but JOY?
I think I will teach this verse to my granddaughters and begin to lay before them the
Glorious Joy
that we just don't want to miss.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

She hath wings

Be like the bird that, halting in her flight

Awhile on boughs too slight,

Feels them give way beneath her and yet


Knowing that she hath wings.

 --Victor Hugo

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Source of Joy

Paul points out in chapter one of Philippians that sharing the Gospel is a source of JOY for himself
and that he also receives JOY in knowing that the Philippian Christians are sharing the Gospel with others.
It's kind of a snowball effect:

I shared with you (JOY),
you shared with others (JOY-JOY),
 I'm happy that you are sharing with others (Triple-JOY)

But . . .
He is under house arrest; his chains restricting him to a small house in Rome. He is separated from those who are dear to him. He has been beaten, tortured, imprisoned, shipwrecked. His body must have been racked with constant pain, even on good days. He knows that very soon he will be sentenced to death for doing what THE LORD has called him to do.

Yet, in this state of affairs, he writes a letter whose constant theme is JOY.

His famous quote

"Rejoice in the LORD always!  Again, I say, rejoice!"
in chapter 4 seems like he can hardly contain himself!

 And why should he.
 He knows where
TRUE JOY is found.
It is found in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and rejoicing with others who are doing the same.
Maybe that's why so many of us aren't so joyful.  We simply aren't sharing the Good News.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Sparrow at Starbucks

Thanks, Mom, for sharing this email.
It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square . Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.
For a musician, it's the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we

were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig - I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the '40s to the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" she asked. "No," I replied.
"We love it when t he audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?"To my delight, she accepted my invitation.. "You choose," I said. "What are you in the mood to sing?""Well. ... do you know any hymns?"Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. "Name one."

"Oh, I don't know. There are so many good ones. You pick one."

I replied.

"How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'?"
My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, "Yeah. Let's do that one." She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.
Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed . Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.I sing because I'm happy; I sing because I'm free. For His eye is on the sparrow And I know He watches me.When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, "Oh, y'all go back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin' to drink, just like you!" But the ovation continued..

I embraced my new friend.
"You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!"

"Well, it's funny that you
picked that particular hymn," she said."Why is that?"

"Well . .."
she hesitated again,
"that was my daughter's favorite song."

I exclaimed.

"Yes," she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual..
"She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week."I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. "Are you going to be okay?"She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything's gonna be just fine." She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the
week before? I refuse to believe it.        

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Undeterred Love

"through one man's righteous act
 the free gift came to all men,
 resulting in justification of life."
Romans 5:18

  In light of my last post regarding Judas, it occurs to me that Jesus' act of washing Judas' feet was definitely part of this righteous act , not discounting His death on the cross, but including it.
What if Jesus hadn't been able to get over the betrayal of Judas?  Where would we be?
He could have stopped the whole thing right then and there.
But a love greater than anything ever seen before was at work.

A love that never was deterred,
 never turned to bitterness,
 was never consumed with self-pity.

No matter how terrible He was treated.

That's the kind of love He wants me to have too.

Lord, MY love isn't like that.

 Fill me with YOUR love instead.

He Also Made the Stars

Sometimes it's refreshing to get back to the basics, which is why I started reading in
Genesis chapter one.
It's as though I am peeking through a window and observing

The POWER TO SPEAK the world into existence.
Wow. That's MY Father!
HE SAID Let there be light.
And there was light.
He SAID Let there be grass.
And there was grass.
(Now it get's REALLY good!)
Then God made two great lights;
the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.
He also made the stars.
It's probably just me, but it struck me as funny that the creation of the innumerable, brilliant multitude of the heavens, which have captivated scientists, astronomers, lovers, sailors, worshippers since their creation,
 is mentioned almost as an afterthought.
Oh yah, don't forget to mention the stars.
God can do that.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Freedom From Negativity

The word JOY connotes a very strong image in my mind. I see a child, with a huge ear to ear, eyes-closed grin, grasping  balloons which are slightly lifting her feet off the ground.
(Ya, like that!)
Reading the 35 verses in scripture that mention joy I sensed an unspoken element:
freedom from negativity
Negativity in one area of our life robs us of joy in ALL areas!
The overriding theme of JOY in scripture is that it is
found in God's presence.
We cannot be in his presence if we harbor grudges, envy, unforgiveness, wrath, if we think evil, harbor untruth, are easily provoked . . . any sin which we hold on to!
The thing that all of these have in common is:  negativity.
So, we find JOY in God's presence.
But we cannot be in HIS presence if we allow anything negative to cling to us.
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble,  AND TO KEEP ONESELF UNSPOTTED FROM THE WORLD."
~James 1:27
I  have understood this verse to mean we should keep ourselves free of sin and the influences of the world, but I now sense the more subtle aspect of simply keeping anything negative from clinging to me; whether it's a news story that is upsetting, or something closer to home.
I will not let negativity rob me of

Friday, May 3, 2013

No Greater Joy

"I have no greater JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth."     3 John 4

I have recently been blessed with another granddaughter whose middle name Joy is taken from mine, Joyce (a great improvement, in my opinion!)

As, coincidentally, my blog theme is JOY, I thought I could talk about grandchildren for a moment. (If I MUST!!)

A friend told me at the arrival of my first grand, that children are God's reward to us for raising our children.  It sure seems that way!

My own grandmother was one of the greatest spriitual influences in my life. She never "preached" to me, she just quietly and graciously lived a life of love and faith.
As I grew older I heard of some of the difficulties she had to deal with in her life over the years, but she never complained or seemed bitter.
The Lord came first in her life. Everyone knew that. But I don't ever remember her saying that. She just lived it.

Turning again to my own grands, I know I want to be that kind of influence in their lives.

Before my sons were even born, and continuing now into their adult lives, my prayer has always been for their salvation. At this point they all have obeyed the Gospel call and continue to lead faithful lives, and  "I have no greater JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth." 
 I agree John. There is no greater JOY.

Except now I realize that that JOY continues on into the lives of our grandchildren.

I'm going to do all I can to help my grands find their way to the Light of God's grace so that I can one day say

"I have no greater JOY than to hear that my  grandchildren walk in truth." 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fullness of JOY

As I continue to pursue the topic of JOY, the direct connection between JOY and HOPE is increasingly established in my mind.

"I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
"Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory REJOICES;
My flesh also will rest in HOPE."
"You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of JOY;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
 Psalm 16:8,9,11
It seems to me the key to the JOY and HOPE which David describes here lies in the very first phrase:
 setting the LORD always before me
There is a confidence, a security which springs from being in His Divine Presence; of knowing who HE is, what HE wants of me and where I am going.
I shall not be moved
You will show me the path
What glorious words in this world of darkness and uncertainty!
Armed and protected by THIS knowledge of THIS GOD,
of being victorious in this life
and partaking of the eternal pleasures
are mine.
Praise God!


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Joy of Thy Salvation

The other night I was praying. I was asking God to help me unload ALL of my burdens and cares. Isn't that sad.
 The LORD has offered to take on ALL of my cares, all I have to do is "cast" them upon Him.
 But I can't even seem to do that without His help.
I cast them.
Then I take them right back.
Just kidding Lord.
I really DO want to carry this huge ball and chain around. (??)
As I am speaking with God about this, a sweet, beautiful psalm comes to mind:

Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation

Yes! That's it! That's what I am seeking!
Once again, it seems to me, the Lord has reminded me of one of the most basic principle of Christianity: Keep your mind dwelling on the Lord and what He had done and will do for you.And go tell others.
that you've been saved from an eternity of misery.
that HEAVEN will surely be worth it all.
that we SHOULD live on a higher plane, free of the burdens this life throws on us.
that God has always been in control.
Just typing that last thought makes me smile.
Wait, what was that?!
I think it was a weight lifting off of my shoulders!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The prospect of possessing


Definition of JOY (by Miriam Webster, the old school definer)

a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight     
If our measure of joy were purely determined by our current "well-being, success or good fortune"   
how joy-less our lives would sometimes be!
But, the "prospect of possessing" what we desire,
 regardless of our circumstance,
is the JOY which Christians are granted.
  We have a sure HOPE . .. .
 which produces true JOY!
And so.
If I am feeling JOY-LESS
Isn't it because I have taken my eyes off of
the prospect of possessing what I desire?
Being eternally in the presence of GOD
is what I desire.
HE has assured me of my prospect.
How could I NOT be

Friday, February 1, 2013

Joy in hope

In my Bible, at the top of the page beginning I Peter, it is noted that the key word in the book is suffering. And yet I turned to I Peter this morning to read the several uplifting verses about joy!

Why am I looking for verses about joy?
Because of suffering!
 God knows me so much better than I know myself.

In some strange way, the two go hand-in-hand. Opposite sides of the same coin.

Peter points this out with striking contrast:

In this you greatly rejoiced, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials . . . (1:6)

that the genuineness of your faith . . .though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus . . .though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible  . . .receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls. (1:7-9)

Joy, then, does not spring from our current circumstances, but from our HOPE.


Keep hoping my friends. Never, never, never, never give up hope.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Exceeding Joy

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear,
 pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
 And to present you faultless
before the presence of His
 glory with exceeding joy,
 To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
 Dominion and power,
 Both now and forever. 

Jude 20-25

 I ran across this verse this morning.    I read it.   Reread it.   Then read it again.

The walk of the Christian life, crystalized.

 All of the sweetness, power, hopefulness, fellowship,  responsibility, purity,
and love squeezed into one wonderfully encouraging, sobering bite.

I can't even describle how that makes me feel to read those words, except to say that it might be like tasting medicine that goes down so sweetly and immediately takes effect. Like an antidote to all of the diseases in this world.
With God our Savior on our side,
what else could we feel but