Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Greetings

Thank you to all who have gone with me through this year and special thanks to those who have dropped me notes of encouragement.  Let me leave you with a final thought.

There is a little portion of Scripture that always reminds me of Christmas.  It isn’t one you usually hear connected with Christmas, but I wanted to share it with you as my last blog submission for 2013.

Romans 8:24, 25 says,  “For we are saved by hope: But hope that is seen is not hope: For what a man seeth, Why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

This verse reminds me of Christmas presents!  We don’t know what they hold.  We anxiously wait in hopeful anticipation that they will be what we imagine!  If we knew what is in the gift, then the magic would be all gone…there would not be hope because we already knew what it held.
I think that is what makes Christmas so fun – the anticipation. There is so much hope around the Christmas season.  We hope the house will be beautiful  - bountifully decorated with lovely smells coming from the kitchen, candles and lavish wreaths, a fully lit tree, etc.

We hope the family will all be there smiling, happy and laughing, beautifully attired and cooperative!

We hope the meal will be like a magazine.  The turkey roasted to perfection on a platter with a heavily laden table of goodies, candles and matching dishes and everything goodie your heart can imagine.

We place so much hope on the day!  But sometimes – it just doesn’t turn out that way!
I remember our first Christmas back from the field.  We were living in the house where I grew up on the farm.  All of the family had gathered for a wonderful meal.  All four of my grandparents were there, my mom, brother, sisters and nephews and nieces.  We had a lovely day and then that afternoon we all settled down to watch a video of my younger sister’s wedding, which had taken place a few months prior.  Just as we started, someone noticed it had started raining outside.  Now that’s not unusual, but, when it starts to rain and the temperature outside is below freezing, the rain quickly turns to ice. 

The cars were starting to ice over.  Everyone grabbed their coats and gifts and rushed out the door to get home before the roads were impassable.  About an hour later the electrics went off and by the light of the fireplace spent the rest of our Christmas.  We brought the mattresses into the main room and for the next three days we did everything in that room.  Even had our Christmas leftovers heated in the fireplace.

Another Christmasmy mother came to be with us in England.  We had spent the day decorating and had gone out to get a real tree to make it special.  When we got home, we realized our tree was a bit big, but, not to be deterred, we set about erecting it and decorating.  As we stood back to admire our work, the tree fell right before us.  My mother turned, looked at me, and went upstairs leaving Tom and I to try to get it back up again!

At the age of 13 I remember another Christmas.  There was a gift for me under the tree. We were allowed to shake them and try to figure out what was inside.  This gift was a cylinder shape.  It rattled and clanged when I shook it and I could not figure out what was inside. So I had an idea, I would ask my sister. She told me it was makeup.  I was so very excited!  I was 13 and I could not wait to wear makeup.  I could barely imagine my mother being so intuitive as to know my desire.  I could hardly wait til Christmas.

But, on the day, as I opened that much awaited gift my hopes were dashed.  It was not makeup – it was roller skates.  The metal kind that you strap to your shoes, hence all the clanging!  Hardly what I had hoped for!  I was truly disappointed.

I’m sure you would have some similar stories.  Sadly, many of us know the disappointment of hopes unrealized!  Especially during the Christmas season. 

I think it is because we get our hopes built up on the wrong thing.  Our hope is misplaced.  You see, it isn’t about the gifts or the trappings.  It truly is about the celebration of the Baby Jesus.  But for some reason we forget that. We need to remind ourselves to adjust our expectations.  To simply overlook the bumps and enjoy the celebration!

Our house might not look like the magazine.  But it can be adorned for His glory.

Our family might not be perfect – but they are His gifts to us, and we should appreciate them and love them just as they are.

Our meal might not be lavish or bountiful, but we can serve it as unto Him.

We can enjoy the celebration because it is just a glimpse of glory.  It is a time of giving.  God gave – initially as the Baby was born in a manger, then, ultimately as this child was sacrificed upon the Cross.

Thankfully that isn’t the end of the story.  This same Son assures us that He has gone to prepare a place for us where we can be with him forever.  The Bible says that eye has not seen nor ear heard what is prepared for those that love him.  This celebration will be perfect and will last for eternity. He gives us this hope of heaven and we will not be disappointed.

The Bible also speaks of those without this hope - those who do not know where they will be after death.  It tells us that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should have eternal life.  And this life, this hope, is in His Son. 

The child born in the manger is the Saviour – the most precious gift of Christmas and in whom you will not be disappointed.  If you do not have this hope, I trust you will seek it out.  There is hope in Christ – no matter your circumstance.  And with Him comes the hope of Heaven.

There was an old man in my church back home who would occasionally recite a poem called No Disappointment in Heaven. I’d like to share it with you.

There's no disappointment in heaven
No weariness sorrow or pain
No hearts that are bleeding and broken
No song with a minor refrain
The clouds of our earthly horizon
Will never appear in the sky
For all will be sunshine and gladness
With never a sob or a sigh

We'll never pay rent for our mansion
The taxes will never come due
Our garments will never grow threadbare
But always be fadeless and new
We'll never be hungry or thirsty
Nor languish in poverty there
For all the rich bounties of heaven
His sanctified children will share

There'll never be crepe on the doorknob
No funeral train in the sky
No graves on the hillsides of glory
For there we shall never more die
The old will be young there forever
Transformed in a moment of time
Immortal we'll stand in His likeness
The stars and the sun to outshine

I'm bound for that beautiful city
My Lord has prepared for his own
Where all the redeemed of all ages
Sing glory around the white throne
Sometimes I grow homesick for heaven
And the glories I there shall behold
What a joy that will be
When my Saviour I see
In that beautiful city of gold
                                    Frederick M. Lehman

I hope you have the Hope of Heaven and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.  I hope your home is beautiful, your family happy and your meal turns out fantastic. 
But most of all I hope you take time to enjoy the celebration…this little glimpse of glory…this time to focus on the hope of Christmas…the baby Jesus…God’s gift to you…and His promise of Heaven.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Week Fifty - Yield


“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God...Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.”
Romans 6:13, 16

Yield.  Give way.  It is to allow another first place.  It is to give up power, rights and control.  Yielding as an instrument means to allow your rights or power to be used by another.  Isaiah 10:15 points out that the instrument (axe, saw, rod, staff) has not the power to work without the power of another.  I just love that idea.  I am nothing more than a tool in His hand, but I have to be willing to yield to His direction!
As born-again, raised from the dead, servants of God we are to yield every member of our body to the use of righteousness.  We are to be tools in His hand.  We can do nothing of eternal value outside His power. Indeed, we are not even able to enter salvation, much less this greater attitude of sanctification, without the power of one greater.
Christ set the example.  Philippians 2 says He humbled himself and became obedient.  He yielded His glory and power to the will of the Father for our salvation.  This was a conscious choice on His behalf.  He did not have to give up his glory, but He chose to lay it aside for the good of others.
Yielding is a choice that we too must make.  Without yielded-ness we cannot be fully used of God.  We are like a rusty trumpet with valves that can’t be pumped or a frozen lock that won’t yield to a key.  We are stubborn and hard.  We are un-mouldable clay.
We must not only choose to yield, but we must also choose to whom we will yield.  The verse gives us two choices – unto sin or unto obedience.  Both hold consequences.  The part that has always spoken to me is the phrase, “..to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey…”  It shows me that I am not alone in my choice.  There are influences vying for my attention.  It also shows me that I am the one that makes this choice.  God doesn’t force me and Satan cannot make me.  I choose my leader.  I choose to whom I will yield, and that choice makes me servant unto a master – a tool in his hand.

To whom are you yielding today?


“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”  
Hebrews 12:11

It may seem strange, but I really like this verse.  The promise is so real to me.  Correction is not fun or joyous, but if we yield to it, it will produce peace and rightness in our lives.

For me, growing up brought meant being exercised by chastening many times.  It seemed I was always in trouble, always being reprimanded.  I used to come home from school expecting my mother to be at the door ready to administer some sort of punishment.  It was not fun.  It made me a rather nervous child.

But the other side of the coin was the happiness that I knew when I was obedient.  When I did choose to follow instruction, or I managed to make a right decision, there was such joy in knowing I had done right.  Seeing the happiness on my parent’s faces and feeling that warm satisfaction in my own heart was really good.

God deals with his children in a similar way.  He isn’t waiting behind the door with a stick, but He is watching what we do and all the while trying to instruct us in the right way.  If we persist in disobedience, then He will administer an appropriate punishment to bring us back into line with His Word and will.

It is a sign of His love that he cares enough about us to teach us obedience.  And, it is a wonderful thing to stand before the Heavenly Father and know His smile and feel that warm satisfaction in our hearts when we know we have been obedient.

How about you?  Are you obedient?  Is God trying to get your attention through some sort of correction?  It is better to yield than to rebel.


“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.”  
Mark 4:7

This is a portion from the Parable of the Sower.  The Seed, which is the Word of God, is cast about for every man to hear and with each man there is a response.  Here we see the seed cast among thorns.  It takes some sort of root in the heart, but the roots of the thorns are so deep that the life of the good seed is choked out.
It yields no fruit in the life of the individual.

As we read in verse nineteen of Mark four, the thorns are representative of the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of our own hearts that actually choke the Word and keep the seed from being fruitful.

How do these thorns choke the seed?  First, they demand attention – the cares of the world.  There are so many responsibilities in life - children, jobs, marriage and finances.  All of these demand our time and unless we are diligent, they will take priority over time in God’s Word. 

Second, thorns counterfeit the influence of the truth – deceitfulness of riches.  As Satan did with Eve, they make themselves look good, question God’s Word and lull us into a false security.  Riches, the Bible says, will take wings and fly away.  They cannot be depended upon.  They actually obscure our vision, all the while claiming to be the sole end of joy and satisfaction.  If we live only for riches, we will come to true poverty.

Third, thorns are overwhelming – the lusts of the heart.  The masses on the broad path are walking alongside us every day, and we can be influenced by their mere presence. The secular idea of the world and its constant pursuit for pleasure vexes the soul. It is like always hearing a voice in your ear saying, “You are missing out on the fun by following God.  Why not let up a bit and join the party?” Thorns can reduce us to compromise and eventually giving up. 

We will yield no fruit if we allow these thorns to overtake us.  Good intentions will not take us far enough.  There is power in the thorn and we need to live aware.

Are you feeling vexed by the influence of the world?  Are you choking?  Are you being tempted to yield?  To “follow your heart”? What do you need to do to change your situation?


“And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; 
and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” 
Mark 4:8

The good soil is soft and yielding.  It is deep and clean, ready to receive the seed and to allow the roots to grow.  The fruit produced is abundant and lasting.

What is the fruit?  Initially, it must be the receiving of salvation, and afterward, spiritual results like: obedience, righteousness, holiness, consecration, self-denial, and usefulness.  The Fruit of the Spirit is another description: love, joy, peace, temperance, etc.  Such fruit is the main proof of spiritual life and growth; it is the natural produce of good soil and good seed.

How does this fruit multiply?  First, like the seed, it is hidden in the heart. Then, just as the mystery of the seed, it is the power of life by the action of the Spirit doing the invisible work in the heart.

Spiritual life follows spiritual laws. God appoints the growth; He carries on a heavenly process in the conscience and heart that yields increase.  It is a gradual and progressive action where God, like a faithful husbandman, waters every moment and attends each seed with heavenly carefulness. He gives the increase as we yield to His tending.

In time, and by His Spirit, the secret working begins to be seen by all around.  Like the life cycle of a plant - our attitudes change, our focus is refined, our usefulness becomes apparent and we are growing in Christ and producing spiritual fruit.  Truly…it is a lifelong process.

Are you growing in Christ?  Is change and spiritual growth happening in your heart?  Is your fruit apparent?  Are you yielding to the husbandman?


“But do not thou yield unto them…”  Acts 23:21

Paul’s nephew has revealed the murderous plot of the Jews against Paul.  Following Paul’s instruction, the young man is brought to the chief captain and he gives warning for the captain to not comply with the request of the Jews, to not yield unto them.
By his bravery, Paul’s life is spared and he is taken by night safely to Antipatris.

This usage of the “yield” means to be persuaded by.  Persuasion is a very powerful tool.  It can be used for ill or for good.  Proverbs records, “With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she seduced him.” (7:21) Here the harlot is using speech to persuade the simple to come into her room – to yield to her.  II Corinthians 5:11 states, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”  Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian.” Acts 26:28
In each of these examples one person was trying to persuade another toward an action.

We are constantly faced with attempts of persuasion. Satan comes as that little devil on our shoulder whispering in our ears, he tries to feed us persuasive thoughts to sway our motivation and actions.  He wants us to yield to his sinful plot.  The Holy Spirit comes striving to convince (persuade) us with the truth of the Word.  His goal is our yieldedness to God.

The warning is for us to consider who and what is trying to persuade us.  What will be the result of yielding?  What is the ulterior motive?  What are the consequences or cost to our lives?

To whom are you listening?  To whom are you yielding?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Week Forty-Nine - Worthy


“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…”
Revelation 5:12

The picture formed by this statement is so precious and soul stirring.  Worthy is Lamb that was slain!  Take time to read this entire chapter and get the whole picture.  The word, worthy, is splashed throughout the chapter and demands that we take note!

Verse 2 asks the question, “Who is worthy to open the book?

Verse 4 gives the verdict, “..no man was found worthy to open and read the book…” 
No man is worthy – we come up short.  We do not have the strength necessary, nor have we paid the price demanded for the privilege of opening the book.  But the book must be opened. Weeping springs forth and desperation is felt, then one of the elders speaks up – “Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book…”  A worthy Man has been found – he has paid the price, he does have the strength.

Verse 9 records a new song sung in heaven, “Thou art worthy to take the book…”  The Lamb is worthy because He was slain in order to have this privilege.  He takes the book and the hosts of Heaven begin with one voice to declare – “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing…”

Worthy – deserving of praise, able to meet the mark, sufficient, honourable. Praise the Lord for this Worthy Man.  Praise the Lord - His will is completed.  Praise the Lord – the enemy has been defeated.  He alone is worthy of our praise.

Do you praise Him enough?


 “Let the elders that rule well be counted
worthy of double honour…”
I Timothy 5:17

I have been privileged to have some amazing men as leaders before me.  The first pastor I remember was a little, round man named Bro McClananhan.  He was a Methodist preacher at the little country church where I grew up.  From him I remember the testimony of his salvation, the love and jolliness in his service and a kind and sweet spirit.  It drew me.

As a very young bride I came under the ministry of another wonderful pastor, Bro Robinson.  From this man I learned about service, holiness, dedication, and missions.  He spent time teaching on the family and was patient with me as I not only came to know Christ, but also began to serve and find the will of God in my life.  He is still today, my spiritual father.

For the past thirty years I have been under a very wise and merciful pastor.  This man is consistent and faithful.  He isn’t easily blow about, but neither is he hard or unyielding.  He has encouraged me to develop my God-given talents and allows me to take initiative with projects and ideas.  He has empowered me to serve and yet watches carefully over me.  He is known as Pastor Gritts.

Ruling God’s flock isn’t an easy job.  Not all of the lambs want to feed in the same pasture or drink from the same spring.  Some will not allow the shepherd to tend their wounds.  Others are vying for his position.  Some will question his leadership, while others will just blindly stumble along.  It takes great patience and wisdom to shepherd God’s flock.

Ruling well is the qualification for double honour.  Double honour means literally twice as much.  A good shepherd – a good pastor – is worthy of twice as much honour as we would bestow upon anyone else. 

But do we do that?  Do we really honour him twice as much?  This can be tested very simply.  Do you pray for your pastor twice as much as you do for your loved ones?  Do you think of his needs twice as much as you do of your own – and do you meet them?  Do you speak well of him twice as much as you do of yourself? 
Quite a challenge isn’t it?  And if you paid that much honour to your pastor, you just might surprise him and encourage him! 

However, giving honour to someone to whom it is due holds blessing not only for the receiver, but also for you.  Why not just quietly, without calling attention to the fact, start doing a little more to honour your pastor?


“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…”
Ephesians 4:1

This little phrase has always been a challenge to my Christian walk.  From the moment I was saved, I knew that I had a lot of catching up to do to come up to the standard of worthiness.  Not to earn my salvation, but to show my appreciation for it and to honour the Lord with the new life He had granted me.

When Paul uses the word “beseech”, he is putting great emphasis on the need for the saints to really consider their walk.  When he uses the word “vocation” (and this is the only time this word is used in Scripture) he is speaking of their station in life to which they are “called” – summoned or bidden.  In Christ we have a new vocation, a new station in life.  We are the “called of Jesus Christ” as stated in Romans 1:6.  There are so many other Scriptures that reveal descriptions of the newness of the status to those who have come to know Christ – heirs, child of God, saints, beloved, etc.  All of these indicate an elevation of status – a new station of life!

So it demands that we walk differently now.  We are no longer children of this world.  Tiegreen said, “…as His co-laborer and joint heir, you are no longer under Satan’s thumb; he is under yours.  You represent the One with all authority…”  We ought so to walk – as one with authority, as representatives of the King, as children of the Most High God.  Walk worthy.

For me that means holding my head up high – not haughty, but as a child of the King humbly aware of my station.  It means making choices that would bring honour to the Lord not dishonor.  It means showing respect and care to those around me in order to show the worthiness of my Saviour.  It means guiding my life in a circumspect way with the goal or aim of being blameless – doing nothing that would bring reproach on the name of Christ or on His ministry.

Verses 2 and 3 go on to give us a further description of what a worthy walk would contain – lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, working toward peace and unity. 

So how is your walk? 


 “…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame…”
Acts 5:41 
There is a teaching that we are “counted worthy” through Scripture.   This accounting can be done two ways.  First and foremost, by the application of the blood of Christ, we are counted worthy to salvation.  This accounting has bearing throughout our Christian life in sanctification, perseverance, service, etc. because without Christ, without the application of His sacrifice upon our lives, we are never worthy.

Secondly, we see we are counted worthy by our actions.  Faith without works is dead, so, in order to show our faith, we must do something.  Scripture tells us over and over that it is based in suffering.  As He suffered for us, we are counted worthy to suffer for Him.  Our suffering does not impute righteousness, but it does reveal righteousness.
Here in Acts the Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of Christ.  They had been reprimanded and beaten because they spoke up for their faith in Christ.  They saw this persecution as confirmation that they were on the right track – doing the work of God.

Luke 21:36 gives another idea as Jesus is teaching about the end times.  He tells the people to watch and pray that they might be accounted worthy to escape the hardships to come.  Matthew Henry explains, “…we must aim not only to escape that, but to stand before the Son of man; not only to stand acquitted before him as our Judge, but to stand before him, to attend on him as our Master, and serve him day and night.”  We must watch and pray in order to be worthy of this privilege.

II Thessalonians 1:5  “…that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer…”  Again, we see that faith alone is not enough.  We are worthy by faith, but that faith needs to be expressed, and it is expressed in suffering.  Faith, if it is worth anything, is worthy of everything.  If we are not willing to suffer for it, we do not value it – we are not actually worthy of it!

And that brings us to Revelation 3:4 – “…which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.”  The faithful will be rewarded.  Those that “endure to the end” keeping themselves pure will be counted worthy to have sweet communion with Him.  They will be arrayed in white.  They are worthy of that honour.

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?  Are you active in your faith?  Do you value it?  Do you see that suffering holds it’s own reward?  Will you be worthy on the day?


“…of whom the world was not worthy…”
Hebrews 11:38

Throughout the centuries men and women have given their lives through persecution, suffering and martyrdom for the cause of Christ and love of their Saviour.  You have only to read Foxes’ Book of Martyrs to know that persecution for faith is a real thing.
Even today we can read of stories of believers who are tortured, mutilated and imprisoned for their faith.  The beauty of the stories lies in the fact that they have not allowed these trials to sway them from their faith.  Persecution has made them stronger, more determined, more confident in Christ.

Here in Hebrews 11, the so-called Hall of Faith, God takes time to record the faithfulness, sufferings, and endurance of His children.  God says the world is not worthy of such individuals.  The word means deserving.  The world does not deserve to have such worthy individuals -people who will live out the meaning of the way of the cross – the fellowship of His sufferings. And yet, God calls some to this vocation, this place in life, this purpose of His will.  Only He knows why. 

When I think of my petty problems, my minor afflictions, my temporary trials, I am embarrassed at my weakness.  I shy away from looking too deeply into the persecutions others have endured because it strikes fear in my heart and questions in my mind.
Would I be strong enough to endure if I were in their place?  Would I deny Christ?  Would I sing His praise at mutilation or imprisonment or become angry and resentful?

Am I such a bland unworthy Christian that the world “deserves” me?  Or is my faith worthy - something “out of this world”?