Emma’s Heart

From the age of three, Emma, our youngest grandchild, has actively shown the love of Christ in her heart; not anything she knew she was doing, but wherever she was, with Jerry and me, and especially with Mother. Emma was three years old; Mother was ninety-one, with dementia, living with us over four years. At the same time, we also cared for Emma and Olivia, our next oldest grandchild two days a week. 

This week, at the age of fifteen, Emma is in Haiti, with a mission group from her church.

Mother was there with her church thirty years ago.

Dear Father in heaven, Thank you for grace beyond measure to us as your children, putting within our hearts the love of Christ, which is the ministry you give us to share with others. We ask you to bless those who live in this love and desire to minister to others in His name. Thank you for loving us and filling us so that it spills over wherever we are. Use your Word through these to draw others to Christ. Bless the young who minister in His name this summer, for your glory and their joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Fran
Related article:Chasing Butterflies and Blowing Bubbles

 

Sleeplessness

Being awake at 2:30 this morning is a good time for me to write about the subject of sleeplessness.  I was in bed since 10:00 P.M. so I have slept. After 78 years, I am experienced and have learned to live with the occasional nights when it is difficult to fall asleep; or when I wake up early in the morning.

How we handle each of these episodes depends on how we view this state in our lives. At times, when younger, there were many different things going on that kept me awake; and I would worry, not only about the things, but about the sleeplessness.

I feel led to write about this dilemma. There seems to be an epidemic. There are sleep centers available for this problem.

First, I believe that it is a result of the condition of our world, which is enough to keep everybody awake.  Maybe we should all stay awake and pray for God to “rend the heavens, and come down; as the melting fire burneth; and make His name known among the adversaries” (Isaiah 66:1).

Our culture should not, however, keep us as God’s children awake and anxious.

Sleeplessness should not be the norm for the Christian.  Going through bouts of insomnia has been a learning and growing experience for me.  God’s word and Spirit have become more powerful in and through me during these times.  They have strengthened me to survive and thrive even when I have not had a good night’s sleep.  Many mornings I had to accompany with piano for a worship service after only a little sleep.  Colossians 1:9-14 became real as I meditated on Paul’s prayer for those of the early church.  He prayed that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Verse 10 in bold print was the word I needed for the day.  Sleep may have sufficed for me to serve, but sleeplessness was a means of grace to lay hold of God’s power. I have experienced more strength from Him when I needed it, than from a regular night’s sleep. 

I can speak here from a time when I was younger, plagued with insomnia; before my conversion.  My whole life was planned around my own desires.  Things were not working in my life as I had hoped.  There was no peace in my heart; sleeplessness was simply my nighttime restlessness.  The days were not much better than the nights.

The Whole Picture
In this short treatise I will attempt, by God’s grace, to address causes and solutions to this problem.  Not being a professional counselor or physician I speak only as I have learned.

How we sleep depends on how we live.  How we live does not depend on how we sleep.  Many excuses come from our not getting enough sleep.  Enough is not the same for every person. Some do not require as much sleep as others.

We should not be envious of those who can sleep anytime, anywhere, at the drop of a hat.  They are blessed in some ways that we are not.  But, we may, in our being awake, be blessed in other ways.  Christ may return while we are awake. Those who are sleeping may miss His first call.

So, at this point, let me encourage you, the reader, to look at your state of sleeplessness as God’s means of doing something in your life that you would not experience, otherwise.  God has a purpose for your insomnia, as for all things.  For the Christian, “everything works together for good, for those who love Him.  For those whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of His dear Son  (Romans 8:28-29). God speaks to every dilemma in our lives.  It is all part of His working for our good and for His glory.

Awakeness and Awareness
Remembering that there is purpose in our being awake or sleeping, let’s look at some possible reasons for our not being able to sleep when we want to.  My list over the years have included occasional indigestion or illness, busy schedule, uncertainty, difficulty in relationships, finances, new plans, grief, overstimulation, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, or other unconfessed sins.  Any of these, and others that you may know, easily displace the peace that God gives us as His children, in Christ.

Our awakeness may be the time for awareness of what we need to address in our daily living. God speaks in all ages and stages. We should ask for His wisdom; for what He wants us to know at every stage.  If we are not sleeping, we ask Him to make us aware of what we need.  If we cannot change what needs to be changed we pray that He bring the changes; or enable us to accept what cannot be changed.

We can break down my list and look at everything separately; but we will soon come to the same conclusion.  In everything God has His plans for us.  Awareness of what is keeping us awake is the first step that brings us to the Lord.  Presenting these of which we are aware to Him, wrestling in prayer, we will soon be tired and resting in Him.  Peace comes when all is given to Him.

Awareness of His Presence
It may be that these times are God’s planning for you to experience His presence. In the stillness and quietness of the night there is a solitude with which most people are not acquainted.   It is this sanctuary that God uses when we are not otherwise silent before Him. God can sometimes meet us here, when we are nor available during the day.  It may be to teach us not only to rely on Him for all things, His plans, His will, His way, but to establish a relationship that carries through the day and night.

Many nights I wake and wait for His presence; to know what special blessings He wants to give; for songs in the night come, especially when I am at peace with Him.

I have learned that all that I am is His, my waking and my sleeping.  He never sleeps so we can have that sweet fellowship anytime.  When I stopped fighting the sleeplessness, stopped counting sheep, and starting looking for Him to speak to me I no longer was concerned about sleeping.

Practical Habits
As I have gotten older I realize that patterns make a difference in our days and nights.  Even if we are at peace, trusting God in all things, in obedience of faith in all that we know; how we plan for sleep helps.  I do not sleep well when my evening has been hectic.  Overstimulation of any kind, talking on the phone for an extended time, caught up in a project, or anything unusual, will keep me from sleeping.  Reading God’s promises, prayer before bedtime and the review of a hymn or Psalm that we will sing next Lord’s Day is part of worship before bedtime.

Overeating at dinner or going to bed on an empty stomach are not good habits for me.  What I eat makes a difference.  By this age I know what my body will tolerate. I know my limitations of food and drink.

A dark room seems to be best.  Light tends to wakefulness.  It is similar to prayer, in that we are shutting out the world and any artificial light.  Jerry has always gone to bed earlier, and I get to bed as early as possible.  Establishing a regular schedule makes  it is easier to get up early, even if I don’t get a good night’s sleep.  Even now, I may lie back down and have a nap before the dawn of this new day, Lord willing.  Either way, my day is dependent on His strength, power and glorious might ~ His Spirit in me ~ “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” When we truly understand and experience this truth, sleep does not matter ~ only Christ.

Precious heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer and sustainer of all living things, so make Christ real in our hearts and lives that we rejoice in Him, even in our sleeplessness. In every waking moment, make us to know your presence, use all our time to fill us with your grace. Wrap us in the glory of the one who lived for us, died for us, was raised for us, and now reigns for us, continuing to teach us. Help us to remember this life as preparation for eternity with you. Fill us with your Holy Spirit of love, joy and peace, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Image:Google

 

God is More

God is more than anyone knows.

God is more than we can see.

God is more than we can touch.

God is more than we can hold.

God is more than all the worldly treasures.

God is more than we can imagine.

God is more than anyone will ever know.

He alone can show us and teach us what He wants us to know.

He reveals Himself by the power of His Holy Spirit.

He reveals Himself through His creation and the writings of the Holy Bible.

He reveals Himself through Jesus Christ, His Son (Matthew 11:27).

Those who ask for His Holy Spirit, earnestly pray, read and meditate on His Word, will find the God of the Bible who wants to be known. It is a continual process, daily food for the soul. As physical food shapes the body, so spiritual food shapes the spirit and life to the image of Christ (John 6:63) (Romans 8:29).

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” 2 Peter 1:3

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you as Creator and Redeemer, for how you reveal yourself to us through your written word preserved and handed down through generations, and your living Word, your Son, Jesus Christ. We thank you that you do not leave us ignorant and miserable in this world, but that you planned to make your presence and power known, inspiring those who penned the truths of life, godliness and virtue so that we may live in and to your glory, now and forever. Open the hearts of those who read your word to know you and the eternal life you give us through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; in whose name we pray, thank you and praise you. Amen.
~ Fran
Image:Google
Suggested Reading: The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY

Overwhelmed by Grace

Years ago, I used this title for another article; it was similar, but different in many ways. It spoke of an overwhelming grace experienced during an earlier time in my life. Jerry and I were still young with both feet on the ground.; we were enjoying what we considered success, our children and small grandchildren; the Lord was doing great things in our lives. We could easily have said, “Then was the best time of our lives.”

We had begun to learn and know God’s covenant of grace. The power of His grace was something fairly new, but it was becoming a great work in my life, a life I had never known. To “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) was a beautiful thing. The overwhelming grace that He had bestowed grew stronger and nothing seemed to hinder even during the few difficult times.

I don’t know where my former article is stored, but I know that His grace was stored within my heart and mind, so that in these last days they have not been lost. During these last days, when the adversities have become overwhelming, God’s grace is far more, able to temper with the greatest of difficulties in this life. God is Greater Than is an older article posted here years ago. His grace was working then and now, continuing to grow and bearing fruit for His name and glory.

“These are the worst of times, and the best of times” ~ the worst of this world, but the best of heaven, and that overwhelming grace is that by which He will wing us to heights unknown and to our eternal home with Him.

An older hymn sung at our church this past Lord’s Day attests to this grace in His faithfulness to us through all times and all things.

Dear Father in heaven, as we consider all that you have done in our lives, we can but know how powerful is your grace that fills and thrills, and spills over wherever we are. We praise you for such a work, a supernatural work, that only your grace can accomplish. We pray that you will continue to grow us as your people, as a witness of your presence and power through all of this life, however difficult and tedious it may become for us. Believing that all the darkness of this world is meant to be a backdrop for your light and goodness, keep us faithful, loving, and gracious; enable us to stand in the truth of your grace revealed through the life, death and resurrection of your Son, our Lord and Savior ~ in whose name we pray, thank you and praise you. Amen.
Related Article: Why Me?
Image: Google

Expect Great Things

As I was getting out of bed yesterday morning I was given the words “Expect Great Things.” This kind of leading is not unusual, but this one seemed profound, so I hit the floor running. When the Lord speaks, we don’t always receive clarification, just direction. We are reminded of Abraham’s story and his obedience to God’s calling. He did not know where he was going but trusted the Lord’s direction.

Three such words as these ~ “Expect Great Things” ~ carry a lot of weight when we consider the source. No one could have given these words except God, the Father, through the presence and power of His Holy Spirit in me.

Upon first hearing these words, the temptation was to think that God had something special in store for me. But then, the same Spirit brought correction to my first and fleshly inclination. The next thought was for me to focus on the source of the words; not the words, but on God, Himself.

Consulting the concordance for the word “great” we find that God created “two great lights” (Genesis 1:16).

His work of Creation was just the beginning of the revelation of His “greatness.”

He promised to make of Abraham a “great nation” and to make his name “great” (Genesis 12:28).

He did a “great work” upon the Egyptians (Exodus 14:31).

(Every time I go to the concordance, I find more than I intended for one article; enough for another book. So, for sake of time and space, I encourage you to search other references for yourself.)

How do we then, understand these three words? If not for me, then who are they for?

In the end, I was led to realize that God is the great One, doing great things even before the beginning of the world. He will always be doing great things beyond my knowing. Where ever He has chosen, He reveals these great things; to whomever He desires. It is just for me to believe who He is, as God, Creator and sustainer of all things, and Redeemer, accomplishing all things He has planned for His own glory and our good.

In the process of realization, His greatness, through His power of creation, came to mind, His awesome deeds of deliverance for His people, His miracles of incarnation, resurrection and ascension, His redemption for us to whom He reveals His greatness, the new birth by His Holy Spirit and new life through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the continual leading of His Holy Spirit in the lives of HIs people. His greatness is revealed through HIs Holy Word. We read and believe though we cannot always understand.

Is He doing “great things” today? Do we need to ask? Or do we trust His revelation to us as the Great One who does “great things” every day, even though we cannot know or see them. And wherever He is working, His greatness has a ripple effect throughout humanity.

Dear Father in heaven, “The Great I Am,” whose “great love” is beyond our understanding, we praise you for your greatness, for the greatness of your grace and your glory. We are not always the direct recipients of what we would consider “great things,” but knowing you, we believe you are everywhere present and powerful every moment of everyday. Let us forever live in this joy and expectation, desiring to hear where you are now working; knowing this in our own hearts and lives as you are continuing to “conform us to the image of your dear Son” ~ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Image:Google

What We Will Leave Behind

As Jerry and I continue to age, getting closer to the end of this life, we seem to think more of the next life than this one. We are more in preparation than ever before. This brings me to the consideration of what we will leave behind when we exit this world. As we share this list, we ask that you not be put off by the first things, but bear through until the end, as we hope you may be blessed to see what the Lord is doing in our last days.

The first things are concerned with the physical life that we now experience. There are other things not listed, but enough is enough.

Uncertainties and perplexities

Regrets

Pain ~ Choosing a below-the-knee amputation almost twelve years ago, Jerry has had continual soreness and pain in that upper leg. Other health issues have prevented seeking remedies for this pain.

Unhealed wounds and everyday change of bandages. He has been receiving treatment for a diabetic ulcer on his foot since the first of last year.

Bloody sheets and shirts, He is on three blood-thinners that cause unusual bleeding from his arms and chest at any time during the day or night.

Bills and pills

Sin and the evil of this world

Spiritual warfare

Sorrow in losing loved ones. Grandparents, parents, brothers, twenty aunts and uncles in my own family and their spouses, two nieces, and cousins on both sides have gone before us, plus friends. The most recent event was the loss of our four-week-old great granddaughter in February.

The most important things we will leave behind are things the Lord has given in the middle of the chaos. These far outweigh the first things we have listed. These we will also take with us. These are eternal. There is much more than what we list here.

God’s Word (1 Peter 1:23)
As we wrote in our last post. God’s Word is eternal. We are birthed by it spiritually, and live by it ~ it is forever in us, written on our minds and in our hearts. We grow by it. It grows in us and bears fruit now and for eternity. His Spirit, who inspired the Word to be written and preserved it for us, leads us by it. As Jesus said, “My words are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). We speak these words now, and they bear fruit for eternity. What we have spoken and written here will remain for God to use for His own glory when we are gone. It will not return to Him void but will accomplish all for which He sent it.

God’s Presence and Power (Hebrews 13;5)
God was here before we came. He will remain to continue and finish His work in all His children.

God’s Love (Ephesians 2:4-5)
The love that penetrated and permeates our heart, soul, mind and strength is being passed down to family members, members of the Lord’s family and to others. (1 John 3:1-2)

The Joy of the Lord (John 15:11)
His joy is an eternal joy. He gives it here. It spreads and never ends.

God’s Peace (John 14:27)
His peace was brought to earth through His Son, Jesus Christ and has continued by the power of His Holy Spirit in His people. This peace will be ours here and eternally, but not ours alone; we have our portion as part of the family of God which will bring us into His presence.

God’s Blessings (Ephesians 1:3)
He showers His abundant blessings upon us during the difficult times that spill over onto any who know us.

Patience and Perseverance (James 1:2-3)
All that He gives is experienced in and through all that we endure while here on earth.

Our Testimony  (1 john 5:10)
We leave behind the witness of all the goodness that we experience in the middle of the trials and adversities. (Psalm 107:8)
The Lord, as He is preparing us in this life for eternity with Him, witnesses of His grace and power in all that we encounter.
All that we endure here will pass away. Finally, with all the dross removed, the proof that we belong to Him shines forth for His glory.

Gracious Father, we thank you for the new life you have given us in the middle of this life ~ new life that enables us to focus on our goal ~ eternity with you. We praise you for the “overwhelming greatness of redeeming love” (Andrew Murray’s Humility) that captures us and keeps our hearts and minds centered in Christ, who is our life. Continue to fill up the spirit, soul and body of each of your children with the inheritance that is ours as joint-heirs with your Son, leaving an imprint on those who know us and believe the witness that you express through us. Thank you for leaving your impression on every generation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Images: Google

The Power of Life in the Word of God

We have but to spend time in God’s Word contained in the Old and New Testaments, known as the Holy Bible, to learn how powerful it is. We need to be reminded from time to time because we can slip away from it, as we are distracted by the everyday occurrences of this world. We need it more than we need daily food for the body. Jesus knew this when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. It is more than daily nourishment now and for eternity.

“Men shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God
.”

Matthew 4:4

Food for the body expires even as do our bodies.

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
  but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Isaiah 40:8

We have never found anything to replace food for our bodies, but we continue to look for alternatives for the spiritual food God planned for the soul.

I am amazed at websites that intrigue their audiences by their food preparations. But God’s Word needs no special recipes, ingredients or fanfare. To sit down with the Bible in hand is food and joy; more than any physical meal. God is present and shares His heart, spirit and soul with us. We find in it the power of His grace, His glory, contentment, peace, love, purpose and power for living. We are fed from the Master’s table with promise for all our needs and some to spare, to share with others. The power of life in Jesus Christ becomes the power of life in us by His Holy Spirit.

Physical food serves for physical strength, but God’s Word far surpasses all our needs, in all of life and through death. Meat and potatoes will only last until our death, but not afterward. Power from God’s living Word and His Spirit transitions us into eternity with Him.

Dear heavenly Father, Thank you for preserving your Word throughout centuries when men tried to destroy it. Thank you that through it you teach us how you preserve us. We have the promises you have given us through your Son, Jesus Christ. He, the living Word, is the power in us for all that you have planned. And in His name we praise you now and forever. Amen.
(Suggested reading: The Garden of God’s Word)