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

Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt

The country song, Sixteen Tons, was written and recorded by Merle Travis in August, 1946. Based on life in the coalmines of Kentucky, the song was one that I remembered from my childhood. It included the lyrics, “Another day older and deeper in debt.”

When I woke yesterday morning to another birthday (two short of eighty years), many thoughts crossed my mind and ended with this one, using the words “another year.”

How many years do we need before we realize how indebted we are for all God does for us? Biblically speaking, I thought my life might end after my seventieth birthday. But, the Lord had different plans than I knew. Even before then I owed my whole life to Him, but with each subsequent year, He so blesses us to see and to bless and praise His name; to live with a thankful heart.

I am indebted to Him for His creation of me, and His plans for me before I knew Him.

I owe Him for giving me the knowledge of Himself through His Word and the power of His Spirit.

I am indebted to Him for opening my eyes to see my sinfulness and my need for a Savior, for His forgiveness; indebted to Christ, His Son, for the debt He paid for my sins.

I owe Him for a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life in His Spirit.

I thank Him for making me His child, taking me by the hand, and continuing to guide me with His Word and Spirit through this wilderness.

The more He blesses, year after year, especially through the difficult times, the more I owe. The more He gives, the more I know I can never repay.

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I am indebted to Him for a husband for 56 of 78 years; for two children and their spouses, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and another on the way. There are friends, pastors, teachers and others who have been a blessing to us, whom we can never repay.

We could go on praising Him for the next seventy years and would be even more indebted.  His blessings never end, and His promises are forever and ever. And, more is to come. We can never stop His blessings from being poured out upon us, and these only samples of what awaits us for eternity.

Dear heavenly Father, even as I give all to you, it will never be enough to repay you for all that you are, all that you have done, and are doing in my life. Thank you for your mercy and goodness that you cause to follow me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in your house forever. In Jesus’ name I thank you and praise you. Amen.

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Why Should God Spare America?

This article “Why Should God Spare America” was patterned after a sermon “Things That God Did Not Spare preached by a young minister, Andrew Stewart, in Northern Ireland August 7, 2016.  It included the main question: “Why should God spare you?” I strongly urge you to listen to this sermon, for your own personal blessing and hope.

The Angels in Heaven

“God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment.” 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6

In Isaiah 6 we see the angels who veiled their faces, showing reverence and respect, humble before the Creator. But because of pride, in a moment of time, the devil and his angels were cast out of heaven. Ezekiel 28:13

God did not spare them. Why should God spare a nation that lives in pride and gives no respect to His authority and rule over us? Are we better than the angels?

The Ancient World

“And God saw the wickedness of the earth” and the evil hearts of men. Genesis 6:5

“He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly. 2 Peter 2:5

They had a preacher.

They also had the blessing of God’s patience, of His long-suffering toward a wicked and rebellious world.

God did not spare them. Why should God spare a nation that pays no heed to the word of God, but lives independently of Him? Are we better than the old world?

The Cities of the Plains

He did not spare Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 13:10

They knew what it was to enjoy the natural and temporal blessings of God.   They had a godly man in their midst. They had an intercessor. Abraham prayed for God to save them. (Genesis 18:22)

“By turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;” 2 Peter 2:6

God did not spare them. Why should God spare a nation that openly and defiantly approves and practices the things that are an abomination to Him? Are we better than Sodom and Gomorrah?

The Natural Branches

He did not spare His chosen people, but many times brought judgment upon them because of their disobedience.

Because of their unbelief, they were left to wander in the wilderness.

They had the blessings of prayer, and of the word from the prophets .

Jerusalem was burned, and the people were taken into exile for seventy years; an equivalence of the number of years that they had profaned the Sabbath.

National Israel in A.D. 70 was scattered to the end of the world.

They had all the privileges. They had God’s blessings, His power, His precepts, the oracles, the types, the shadows of the Messiah, yet they rejected Him when He came.

God did not spare them. Why should God spare a nation that rejects the message of His Son? Are we better than the Israelites?

Why should God spare America? Why are we any different from those who fell under His wrath and judgment? We have the word of God that He has preserved all these years, translated in our language, which men have lived and died for. We have ministers who preach the Word of God; intercessors who pray for the salvation of this country.

In comparison to those whom God did not spare, we stand condemned before Him.   We can but wonder why He has been so patient with us; in mercy and long-suffering with us.

How can God spare us? Where is our hope? The answers are found in His Word.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Romans 8:32

Jesus Christ, God’s Son

God did not spare His own Son but He poured out His wrath upon Him so that we may be spared.

As God’s children, we must examine our own hearts and our confession of faith.

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17

God’s patience is on our behalf, as His people, that we might be turned to Him. Persecution may be the only means to prove who belongs to Him. It is in these times that we turn to His Word and call out for the Holy Spirit’s power in our own hearts and lives, and proclaim this hope to others.

“Be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation,”
2 Peter 3:15
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Dear Father,  as we wait and hope, in the mercy and grace of our Lord, whom you did not spare for our sake, let us continue to pray, proclaim your kingdom, and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” In whose name we pray, praise, and thank you. Amen.  2 Peter 3:18
Audio: Things That God Did Not Spare

Photography: Mike Roberts

A Year of Thanksgiving

1-Thessalonians-5_182014 was a year of humility. 2015 was a year of meditation.   Last year ended with Jerry in ICU after his heart attack, so he and I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital. There were no fireworks ~ just the two of us with grateful hearts celebrating life and God’s blessings as another year was opened to us.

Before then there was no indication of where our concentration should be this year. But, we didn’t have to wait long. This has been a special year to be thankful, even in the middle of emergencies, the everyday perplexities and abnormalities of this life.

In our reading and meditation this week we spent time in one of Paul’s letters.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, I had to take the time to let these things sink in, again.

“Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This is how I had to stack these. They rest together on the foundation that Christ laid for us. We understand that God, our Father planned through the life and the atoning work of His Son the means in this world for our rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving. This is not a natural thing.  We all know that in the middle of difficulties, thanksgiving is not our first thought. But, just as we learned in the year of humility, we first desire to do His will, realizing that it is possible with His Spirit supernaturally working in us.  We desire, we pray and continue to pray that He do His will, His work in us. Paul spoke to the Philippian church that it is God who works to will and do in us, according to His own pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) We have in Christ this relationship with Him, so as to know His will, and how, by His Spirit, He works it in us. In Christ, we are enabled to rejoice, to pray, and to be thankful.

Whatever the circumstances of this life, nothing is greater than what He has prepared for us in His Son. Through our study and meditation of His Word and the truths of Christ, He continues to grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and through our circumstances to conform us to His image. (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29)

Dear Father, you know how forgetful we are, and how prone we are to complain. Forgive us, and lead us as your people, your family, to be your image bearers.  Thank you for providing the means for us to rejoice, to pray, and be thankful in the middle of a chaotic world. By your Spirit, witness through us to others of your grace and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Related article:  The Glad Rule

Claiming Our Rights

    God, our heavenly Father calls us to lay aside every claim to any rights to ourselves; and to lay claim to all the blessings, imagesand benefits that He promises us in Christ and His Word.

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God , and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17

We tend to settle with what we want and what we think we need, therefore not receiving what God has prepared for us as His children.  One of the first benefits is having His Word, The Holy Bible. In it we find all the treasures that we may claim in His name. It is last will and testament, revealing all that He wants us to know about Him and what He has bequeathed to us, remembering that we do not deserve anything, but all is of His grace.

            “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.”  Psalm 68:19

            “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits;” Psalm 103:2

Read the whole of Psalm 103 and find these benefits.

             “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” Psalm 116:12

We do not deserve, nor can we ever return anything but obedience, praise and thanksgiving for His benefits.

Read His Word daily as if looking for the rights that are given to us in His kingdom. It is an exhaustive search for which we find all that He wants us to. Only a few are listed here, because they are two numerous for an article; and the book has already been written. We need to search diligently for what is given to those who ask, seek and knock at the door of His heart.

His Love

              “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that  love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9

               “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his  Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

His Mercy:

His Salvation through the forgiveness of sins

His Mind:  “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 2:16

                       “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5

His Riches: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

His Kingdom: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

                        “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32

 Dear Father, We thank you and praise you for every days provision of all that you give us in and through your Son, Jesus Christ.  We deserve nothing but your disapproval and wrath, but by your mercy and grace you have made us your own children, heaping upon us all your love and benefits.  Open the eyes of your children to see the waste of the world in those things that are never satisfying; and give the light of Christ to see eternal life in you and your eternal treasures.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen

Perseverance

Since Wednesday of last week I have been in the process of making a video that could be published on YouTube. The audio was in my music file, with other recordings converted from cassette tapes, through Garageband to ITunes.   This is my first attempt, and having the impression that it would be an easy task I set out to collect some images to use with America the Beautiful that our daughter Lee, and I had sung at Smokerise Baptist Church in 1986. My project was begun on July 1, with high hopes of publishing it on July 4th,  but that did not happen because I didn’t really know what I was doing.  The Lord led me first to Don Detrick’s website, and his permission to upload images from his Flickr photographs, so I did not need to go anywhere else for images.

A lot of Google searches turned up many different ways to make a video on a Mac.

I first tried PowerPoint but there were problems with this program. A second try with a free trial software did not work out. After hours and days of trying different methods I stumbled across the application of IMovie on our Mac.

The format was similar to others, so synchronizing the music to the photos was the main thing. Finally I had a decent video (for a beginner) but instructions for importing from IMovie to YouTube did not work. After struggling through the midnight hour of Wednesday, this week, I gave up and put everything to bed. My continual prayers resulted in plans to try again Thursday morning for 30 minutes. If no progress was made I would leave for a time, take the remainder of the day for something else I needed to do; try again for 30 minute intervals whenever I had time until I experienced some progress.

Thursday morning after setting the 30 minute limit I opened the movie file where I had imported from IMovie. It still looked okay. I then signed in to my YouTube (Google) account and clicked the upload button, after which it took only a few minutes to publish. Here is the finished product. I praise the Lord for His leading me through with patience, persevering by His grace, for His glory. Whether there will be more videos or not depends on the Lord’s leading.  Whatever His will He always leads through or over every obstacle.

Gracious Father, thank you for the country you have given us, a country where your people still fear, love and obey you.  Thank you for enabling us to see your goodness, even in the middle of wars, chaos, oppression, persecution and rebellion from others against you.  Thank you for your plans in which you follow through to accomplish all according to your will.  Thank you for your continued leading by your Holy Spirit in the lives of your children.  We pray that your brotherhood throughout this nation will continue to grow stronger.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

The Blessing to Parents

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To the glory and praise of our heavenly Father I wrote this poem for our oldest grandchild, Ansley and her husband Dustin, who are expecting their first child this month. Art was added by our second oldest, Kourtney.