GOD and Today

This title came to mind about a month ago, without any idea of this post.

This week it has come together. For two weeks Jerry was really going down. Last Saturday and Sunday he slept non-stop except to get up for what was necessary. After eating, he was so tired and weak that he had to lie down. He would not let me call 911 even though at times he was a little short of breath. He said that Dr. Jackson, his primary care physician would put him in the hospital when he went for his scheduled appointment on Monday morning.

We left the doctor’s office after an x-ray and blood work, with the instructions that they would call us in thirty minutes with the results. At first, we thought about going home fifteen minutes away, but he decided he wanted a Sonic burger. While he ate, I ran into Publick’s for fruit. We sat in the parking lot to wait for the call. The phone rang.

Tyler, the nurse told me Dr. Jackson wanted to talk to me. The bad news was that Jerry’s hemoglobin was down to 6. The last check was good at 13. He sent us to ER to get a blood transfusion. I was thankful that Jerry had lunch already. I hadn’t, but at times like these, even at my age, I seem to run on stored fuel. We checked into a crowded waiting room around 1:00. As usual, for the past twelve years, we had to find a parking place for Jerry’s wheelchair out of the way of other patients. And, it is usually a place where we have full view of all that is happening.

From triage for vital signs; waiting again for more blood work (they like to have their own and for more testing than the doctor’s staff did), we went back to the waiting room until an examining room was available.

During our waiting, we were privy to the sounds of names being called, coughing, babies crying, a two-year-old tantrum twice, and security officers coming and going. But during all this, I knew the Lord’s presence there. Even though Jerry has lost much of his hearing, (getting a hearing aid is at the bottom of our list) we had time to communicate as i sat close to his right ear.

We watched as a mother who was there with her sick teen-age daughter take a snack to the screaming child. When a daughter became impatient because her mother was not getting the attention she wanted, she complained to a security officer. Soon after, another woman there with her son walked over to the impatient daughter to show her something on her IPhone.

It was a blessing to see that most of the patients were accompanied by a loved one. But one man got tired of waiting. When his name was called, someone said that he had left. The security officer and the other staff member went outside looking for him. There were other interesting patients, some with the whole family accompanying.

Well, we waited longer, but no room was ever available. (The last time we came on our own we sat in the hallway outside the ER rooms with the overflow of patients.  You get immediate attention when you call 911.)

They finally took us back to the same hallway as our last visit, but this time gurneys were lined up next to the wall, where Jerry lay while they continued their exam. We probably repeated why he was there at least ten times. There was a steady stream of doctors and nurses passing through the hall where they started the IV for the first transfusion.

We finally met the ER doctor, a young attractive woman who had passed by before. I thought she was a nurse. A doctor from the hospital talked with us about any signs of blood. Another one walked by two or three times with his hands in his pockets. Three student nurses walked single file past us several times. Jerry called them the three musketeers. A patient down the hall waited with his feet exposed and his head covered.

When the IV spilled when Jerry bent his arm, the techs were very compassionate and started another IV in his other arm. I was impressed of how well they all worked together, especially in such close quarters.

Volunteer pink ladies stopped to see if I needed anything. Water was enough for the time being. Our daughter, Lee came and waited until they took him upstairs to a room at 8:30. I came home just before dark, ate, got a shower and went to bed. She was there part of every day so that I had a respite.

He was taken off all three blood-thinners and Tuesday we understood the possibility of internal bleeding, with the suggestion for a colonoscopy.

He received a second transfusion on Tuesday, while they kept doing lab tests. Thankfully, they were putting in more than they were taking out.

We came home late Wednesday afternoon with plans for home health care until Jerry is stronger. If his hemoglobin does not return to normal even without the blood thinners, we will look at the options for further testing.

This was our fourth visit to ER in this new hospital. With all the doctor’s visits and close calls, we are reminded that whatever we must endure, God is present, with us through it all. It is in these times that we see the reality of His presence with others, hospital staff and patients working through the everyday trials of this world. More and more, we learn to wait patiently to see what the Lord’s plans are for us, and how we may help others through their difficulties. On elevators, with the staff ministering to Jerry and others, there are people who need the Light of Christ; a kind word, a smile, peace and patience where there is chaos. A touch of gentleness and compassion is sometimes better than medicine.

During Jerry’s blood transfusion, especially when it was spilled, I was reminded of the blood of Christ our Lord, spilled for us that saves us for eternity. We are thankful for the blood Jerry received from a donor, but it would not save his life. Jesus gave His blood to give us eternal life. How grateful we are to our Creator and Redeemer for all that He has done, is doing, and promises in the future.

Gracious Father, there was more to these last few days than I can recall and write, but as always, you are wherever we are. In the hallways of our lives, in the waiting rooms, in our yesterdays, the present days, future days and forever, your grace, your word are real. We thank you for Jerry’s care this week and that we will know your plans for him as you reveal them. We thank you that all is for your glory and our good. We praise you in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Fran

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Intent, Tender a​nd Tenacious

It has been a blessing to see how two current series are dovetailing. We are bringing Words of Life ~ A to Z ~ The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian into our chapters of Beyond a Mere Christianity. We are finding the language of God’s kingdom fitting and powerful to take us beyond the ordinary Christian life.

Our Word this week is AFFECTION, seeing that it relates to what we love most and set our minds on. This word and its meaning work to establish the intents of our hearts. With this as a beginning, let us look into the life of our Lord Jesus Christ to understand how a believer follows the Master. Latin for the prefix ten means to hold and to stretch. We will look at how this works in the words intent, tender and tenacious. INTENT (mind, understanding, will; manner of thinking and feeling) see a deeper meaning as we understand it, considering purpose, goal, attention, etc. here. Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the power of God’s Word that searches our hearts. 

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Word of God detects the deepest affections of our being. When the Word of God quickens us to a new birth, the intents of our hearts are changed from the natural desires of the flesh to “make us his workmanship” (Ephesians 2:1-10); to desire and love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as our self. Instead of following our own path in life, in faith and repentance, we deny self and follow hard after Christ. What is this path of righteousness in which He leads us? We will know this as we look into the intent of our Lord’s heart when He came to earth. He was conceived of the virgin Mary to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Because of His love for His Father and for those he came to save, He lived with one intent, to do the will of the Father (John 5:30) knowing he would lose none of those whom the Father had given Him (John 6:39). There was an intensity of His affection for His Father and for us.

“For the love wherewith He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

“He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

~ “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:42 Timothy 1:9).

The covenant of redemption was made between the Father and the Son before creation. By the power of His Word and His Holy Spirit, He would reveal and fulfill this covenant here on earth in and through His people whom He would bring to love Him. His everlasting love through Jesus Christ was revealed on the cross when He shed His precious blood for our redemption. When we hear and read His Word, the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of His people to initiate affection toward Him so that we turn and follow that which we love. TENDER In the Old Testament, the same word for tender is used for compassion, mercy, pity. The Psalms speak often of the tender mercies of the Lord.

“The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:9

Jesus knew His purpose for being here; His affections were set on His Father and His people, those for whom He came to live and die, but nothing and no one could change His character of grace and mercy while He was here. He showed a righteous anger toward the religious leaders who were “blind, leading the blind,” but He showed tender mercies toward the “sheep who were being led astray.” He healed all that were sick, cast out devils, spoke truth to all the multitudes, and loved those who would eventually join their hearts against Him and shout, “Crucify him!” He knew no one could come to Him with the affection, love, and intent to endure with Him except the Father draw them to Him. And we remember that only one of those was at His feet as He was dying on the cross. His true character was shown even in His compassion in healing the ear of one who came to arrest Him. When He was dying, His tenderness for His mother was shown as He looked down and committed her care to John. His love for humanity was expressed in His dying words, “Father, forgive them.” He understood that none of us know what we are doing; that was His purpose for living in complete obedience to the Father, then giving that perfect life as a sacrifice for the atoning of our sins. He finished the work He came to do so that we can come boldly to the throne of grace in His name for reconciliation through His shed blood for us; for new life to follow Him with great and precious promises ~ beyond a mere hope ~ to live as He lived. TENACIOUS Though Peter and Satan, himself, tried to keep Jesus from His appointed mission, He did not waver, but “when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,” Matthew 20:18

Jesus knew when His hour had come. The hour of darkness (facing death and taking our punishment upon Himself) was His destination here on earth in order to save His people. He spoke of His death, but His disciples did not understand until after His ascension and the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost. Colossians 2 and 3 speak of our relationship with Christ and how His work of redemption affects our living. Colossians 2 teaches us that we are “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” Colossians 2:12-13

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Ephesians 3:1-4

We set our minds, our affections, and our goal on the glory He has prepared for us with Him. With the same intensity as He went to the cross, we hold to our purpose for being His disciples. We stretch ourselves forward and upward in our calling with Him. As we continue to follow Him, we are tenderhearted toward others, even when they misunderstand who we are in Christ. In the same spirit of tenacity, we continue to follow His lead until He has finished His work in us here. Gracious Father, whose will your Son came to fulfill, make us to know our purpose in following Him. Keep our focus and intentions true by the power of your Holy Spirit. Let nothing of this world deter us from following Him. Keep our hearts tender toward others, enabling us to witness of Christ. Bring us steadfast and immovable in the work of our Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. Fran Photo by Wendy van Zyl from Pexels

Words of Life ~ AFFECTION

As we look at the word AFFECTION, we understand its meaning from the beginning of God’s Word, seeing that everything good begins with God. Affection is related to what we love; what we find to be pleasant and desirable. The right love is first revealed in God. He, through His Word, shows us true love and where our affections should be. Deuteronomy 33:3 speaks of the love of God for His people when Moses gave them His commandments. He gave His rules only to His people because He loved them; derived from H2245 chabab (khaw-bab) meaning to cherish (with affection) – love. Biblical affection seems to be a special love from God, and us to Him, the things of God and His people.

Old Testament H7521
Strong’s ratsah rä·tsä’a primitive root; to be pleased with, be favourable to, accept favourably. (See references)

King David, before his death, had planned to build the temple, but was only able to prepare for it. It would be his son, Solomon, who would build it. But because of his affection ~ his love ~ for God, he gave his gold and silver for it.

“Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house,”
1 Chronicles 29:3

New Testament G3804
Strong’s defines affection: pathema pä’-thā-mä
subjectively, an emotion or influence:– affection, affliction, motion, suffering; affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling) Galatians 5:24

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

G5426 phroneo fron-eh’-o from 5424; to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication, to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience):–set the affection on,   regard, savour, think. phroneo is used in several references for the word savour, Colossians 3:2

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

The Spirit of Christ turns us from the affections of the flesh and the things of the world to “things above.” (We will elaborate on Colossians 3:1-4 in our next post, Intent, Tender, and Tenacious.)

4698 splagchnonc splangkh’-non probably strengthened from splen (the “spleen”); an intestine (plural); figuratively, pity or sympathy:–bowels, inward affection, + tender mercy.

Regarded by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.) In 2 Corinthians 7:15, Paul speaks of Titus’ affection toward the believers at Corinth.

“And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.”

Paul’s affection for the Gentile Christians uses the word homeiromai ho-mā’-ro-mī G2442 meaning to desire, long for, esp. the longing of love.

“So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
1 Thessalonians 2:8

Romans 12:10 uses the word philostorgos fil-os’-tor-gos G5387 from G5384, (cherishing one’s kindred; parents, children, natural relatives, i.e . fraternal towards fellow Christians.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”

From God’s affection for His people in the Old Testament, King David’s affection for God and His house, to the love of Christ in the New Testament, we are taught and delivered from our natural affections. Being raised with Christ to new life, we set our affections on Him and the heavenly life that awaits in glory with Him. In the meantime, our hearts are trained to show mercy and compassion on those of our own household and fellow believers.

Gracious Father, thank you for the example of your affections for your people, through the nation of Israel and us, who are new creatures in Christ. Teach us to exercise our minds in the things of your Word, so as to displace our affections for the things of this world with the things above which are eternal  In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

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“What Do You Want Me To Do For You?”

Mark 20:46-52 is the record of a blind man who called, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Having Bartimaeus brought to Him, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, that I might receive my sight.”

This question has been resurfacing in my heart for a while. If Jesus were here today, and I could be blessed for Him to physically pass my way, what would I want from Him?

Considering that, of all who approached Him, Jesus asked this question only to a blind man, my answer would apply to my sight.

“jesus, have mercy on me. Open my eyes to see you as you truly are.”

“Show me the beauty of your holiness and the work that you have done for us, so that we may love you more and diligently follow you as did Bartimaeus.”

‘”I ask this not just for me but for your people everywhere. Let us see you as our refuge at all times.”

“Open the eyes and hearts of men and women who have been in the destruction of this recent storm to look to you for all they need.

“Open our eyes to see their need. Unite our hearts in this time of disaster.
Give us hearts of compassion, that we trust in you for our own needs and that we would even sacrifice for food and shelter for others in need.”

“Shine your light into our hearts for new life and joy, even in the middle of adversity. I ask to see your work in hearts and hands, for your glory and for the sake of others. Turn hearts to you during this time.”

“Dear Father, send your Holy Spirit, open our eyes to see Jesus, to know Him, to love Him and obey Him. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”Jesus may pass our way only one time in our lives. Cry out to Him. He will hear and answer. He promised to show Jeremiah great and might things not known. Jesus still hears and answers. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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The Impact of One Act

A greeting card we received ten years ago stands on our computer desk. We received it from someone we did not know, who wrote, “Dear Fran and Jerry, We have you on our “permanent” prayer list and have been fervently praying for you regularly.”
A neighbor of ours had asked prayer at her church for Jerry, after his leg was amputated. The card was sent from someone who knew of his slow process of healing, saying, “We are so thankful for your Godly example in dealing with adversity and staying so faithful to trust in our Sovereign Lord. We will continue to lift you up! For His glory, Sarina and Michael Roth
This card was among many others, with emails from those who were praying, encouraging and supporting us during that difficult time, but this one stood out from all the rest because it came from a sister-in-Christ that we had never met.
It was over three years, and a third surgery, before Jerry’s wound from the amputation was healed. For nine years I kept the card in a special place. Last year, after I published TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver, I took the card out of the envelope, read the message again, and was led to find Sarina on Facebook. I contacted her to let her know how much her card had meant to Jerry and me, that we were still blessed by reading it. I told her about the book and sent her a copy. In the process of our communication, I learned that Sarina is a photographer and creator of her own greeting cards (perhaps another reason this card was so special to us).
Since our connecting on Facebook, she and Michael were involved in a motorcycle accident. Both sustained injuries, both are recovering, but Sarina cannot yet use her hand for her photography. My prayers for her and Michael are fervent and daily for their healing.
When she sent her card to us so many years ago, she had no idea how her act of compassion toward us would impact our hearts and lives.
Jerry and I were actually impacted by two acts. First, Sarina prayed.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
Then Sarina, in an act of kindness to us, encouraged us by letting us know that she was praying.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” Colossians 3:12
We should never doubt that an act of kindness, no matter how small, will make a difference in someone’s life, and that kindness be returned to us when we least expect it.
 Dear Father in heaven. We praise you for working in the hearts of your people to care for one another. Thank you for revealing your love everywhere, especially in our kindness to others. Thank you for the blessing of Sarina’s card so many years ago, that proves a love that recycles, and truly is evident “all around us.” I ask for your continued healing for Michael and Sarina; for Jerry, as he still needs our care, and your mercy for all in need of healing. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~ Fran