Friday, September 30, 2016

CREATOR, SUSTAINER, SAVIOR

Creator, Sustainer, Savior

Lord, you created everything on earth;
And it is you who sustains us from the moment of our birth
Until you take away our breath and return us to the dust from which you made us.

You provide the cattle, the plants, even the rain
That causes all the food we need to grow upon the plain.
You open your hand to satisfy us and to abundant life in Christ you bade us.

You sent your Spirit and created us anew,
Sent your Son to die so we’d have fellowship with you.
You are the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of each one who trusts in Christ.

Your trees are well watered, and from my heart
Flow springs of living water that you wish me to impart
To others so that they may know how to experience salvation and have eternal life.


            Look around you.  God made it all.  Watch plants grow and winds blow.  God keeps them going.  Breathe.  God gave you that breath.  Slow down long enough to appreciate how awesome the Lord really is.  He made us, sustains us, redeems us, and after all that work, still loves us! 
            I’m typing right now.  How many nerve impulses drive how many bones and muscles to move my fingers to precisely the correct keys to turn my thoughts into words on a computer screen right before my eyes?  It’s mind boggling to think that God sustains all life from the tiniest protozoa to the big, gray elephant and keeps my fingers from getting crossed up on the keyboard.  
As I read all of Psalm 104, the thought struck me that the almighty, all powerful, awesome Lord who did and does all the things in this scripture passage LISTENS to me! In fact, he longs for me to pray to him and fellowship with him.  He CARES about me individually.  He LOVES me with an everlasting love.  He does the same for you.
Thank him.  Praise him.  Say with the psalmist, “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.  May my meditation be pleasing to him as I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:33-34)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

HARMONY IN THE FAMILY - poem & photo by Susie Hale, Precious Jewels Ministries

ĕulŏgia2129 – fine speaking, i.e. elegance of language: commendation (“eulogy”), i.e. (reverentially) adoration: religiously, benediction; by impl. consecration; by extens. benefit or largess: - blessing (a matter of) bounty (x – tifully), fair speech.

A solid field of golden poppies 
high upon the hill,
in my days of childhood, 
always gave a thrill.
But lately I have been impressed 
with plains of multi-hues,
Yellow or pink flowers 
popping up amid the blues.
Amid my brothers and sisters, 
even though we all share Christ,
There are those with opposing perspectives 
on walking through this life.
We must appreciate our differences 
and live in harmony
Realizing God creates 
from us his symphony.
For all the varied people, 
like woodwinds, brass, and drums,
Keep the music of this life 
from being just ho-hum.
Each person’s lovely colors, 
like the flowers of the field,
When painted by the hand of God, 
a blessing for all will yield.

     “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We’ve all heard that one! But according to Peter, I am not only to refrain from returning an insult, but to speak highly of the person who insulted me.

            Father, help me to bless others even when they have hurt me. Help me to accept my brothers and sisters in Christ as varied hues in your perfect tapestry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TAKE TIME TO HONOR HER





























timē5092 – a value, i.e. money paid, or (concr. and collect.) valuables; by anal. esteem (espec. of the highest degree), or the dignity itself: - honour, precious, price, some.

            If I read the above definition correctly, a husband should value his wife as most precious and esteem her to the highest degree. I think it interesting that the English rendering of this Greek word looks like time because that is exactly how a woman knows that she is valuable to her husband…he makes time for her. This admonition for men to affirm their wives comes with a warning: if the man does not honor his wife and respect her, he cannot pray effectively.
            I believe this is not only true in the marriage relationship but in all our dealings with others. Recognizing the value in our friends and coworkers, taking time to show them appreciation, seeing fellow Christians as joint heirs, are keys to having right relationships horizontally. Snags in our earthly relationships can hinder our time with our Father.
           
Father, although I am single, I can take to heart the message that I need to show honor to those I love. Help me also to encourage male friends to honor their wives.        

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SUBMISSIVE & FEARLESS


“For it was thus that the pious women of old 
who hoped in God
were (accustomed) to beautify themselves, 
and were submissive to their husbands –
adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary 
and dependent upon them.
It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham
(following his guidance and 
acknowledging his headship over her by) 
calling him lord – master, leader, authority.
And you are now her true daughters if you do right 
and let nothing terrify you –
not giving way to hysterical fears 
or letting anxieties unnerve you.”
1 Peter 3:5-6 (Amplified Version)

ptŏēsis4423 – alarm: - amazement

            My son has been truly blessed with a wife who is not easily unnerved. She is definitely his equal but chooses to play the supporting role. Her faithfulness to him and their children during his deployment in Iraq, along with his own faith in God, is the glue that held him together.

Thank you, Lord, for giving Thomas a wife of excellent character and for sustaining her as she ministers to her husband. Thank you for her family who taught her to rely on you rather than to give way to fear. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

INNER BEAUTY

Poem & Photo by Susie Hale

Behold this little wildflower, 
not the flashiest of blooms,
yet its simple beauty 
caught my eye and drew me in.
Even so, the humble woman 
whose apparel may be plain,
but who radiates Christ’s goodness, 
whose trust in Him always remains,
has by far the greater beauty, 
for it comes from deep within.

praüs4239 – appar. a prim. word; mild, i.e. (by impl.) humble: - meek.

hēsuchiŏs2272 – prop. keeping one’s seat (sedentary), i.e. (by impl.) still (undisturbed, undisturbing): - peaceable, quiet.

            Meek does not mean weak, but rather humble; and quiet is not just the opposite of loud. However, don’t take that “sedentary” above to heart because as trite as it is, “A woman’s work is never done.” A strong, but gentle woman remains undisturbed. She has the quiet confidence and inner beauty that comes from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
            
            Father, help me to be quietly confident and work more on becoming like Christ than on having the appearance touted in magazines and on billboards. May I be attractive because of who I am in Christ rather than the clothes, makeup, and jewelry I might wear. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

PURITY

“Wives, in the same way be submissive 
to your husbands so that,
if any of them do not believe the word, 
they may be won over without words
by the behavior of their wives, 
when they see the purity 
and reverence of your lives.”
I Peter 3:1-2

hupŏtassō5293 – to subordinate: reflex. to obey: - be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.

hagnŏs53 – prop. clean, i.e. (fig.) innocent, modest, perfect: - chaste, clean, pure.

            Several couples have shared with me that the woman became a Christian first, and ultimately her husband came to Christ due to her consistent, Christ-like behavior. One man shared that he even tried to make his wife miserable about her faith. He’d go to church with her but make sure they had a fight on the way causing her to enter church red-eyed from tears. He teased and mocked her, but she still treated him with respect and love. Her purity and reverence were evident even though he was sometimes successful in frustrating or angering her.
            Eventually, he went to church with her and really listened to what the minister said. He met the Lord Jesus and has never been the same. Their marriage became stronger as the husband became active in church. Their three boys were raised to love the Lord and treat women with respect.
            People watch our behavior, even in our own homes. May others always see Jesus in our actions and hear him in our words.

            Father, help me to be modest, chaste, and reverent. Help me to be submissive to authority and to show your love to those who do not yet know you.

Memory Verse 1 Peter 3:8




Friday, September 23, 2016

UNTIL WE SEE YOU FACE TO FACE


Until We See You Face to Face
Juanza’s Song
 (Psalm 103:14 & I Corinthians 13:12)

Lord, you know we are but dust
for you are the one who created us.
Lord, you know you’ve given us limited capacity
to understand your power and your grace.
So, Lord, help us trust in you 
even when we don’t understand
all the ways you work in us 
to bring about your perfect plan.
Lord, give us grace until we see you face to face.

For when we see you face to face,
then we shall see clearly.
Instead of seeing only pieces,
we’ll see them fit into your perfect plan.  
(I Corinthians 13:12)

            Read all of Psalm 103.  Read it slowly.  Read it aloud.  Drink in its truth.  I had purchased and watched a video on which Michael Card did just that only a few days before I got the call about Juanza.  Actually, the school secretary took the call and came to my classroom to give me the news that my friend Juanza had suffered complications after childbirth and wasn’t expected to live.  I hadn’t even known she was pregnant!  It seemed only yesterday that I’d traveled to another town to attend her wedding, but it had been long enough for her to be having her first child.
            That night at the hospital Juanza’s mother sobbed to me that she couldn’t understand why Juanza was dying when she finally had all her heart had desired: a loving husband, two step-sons, and a beautiful new daughter.  She felt guilty for questioning God.  I shared Psalm 103:14 with her and assured her that God understood her inability to understand his ways. On the way home I had to remind myself that God in his wisdom had a plan for Juanza’s family and that this earthly tragedy had not caught heaven off guard.  ALL the words of Psalm 103 were still true for them and for me even if we were having a hard time trusting at that moment. 
            Juanza, a respiratory therapist, had once told me that the saddest thing was to see a family keeping a body alive when the person was probably already absent from that body and present with the Lord.  During the drive from the hospital I prayed that the Lord would take Juanza home quickly so that her husband would not be faced with the decision to remove life support.  He was not up to that.  When I arrived home, my phone was ringing.  Juanza had gone to be with Jesus.  A few days later, I wrote the song above.
            Read Psalm 103.  Read it slowly.  Read it aloud.  Internalize it.  Memorize it.  Then, when sorrow beyond belief encroaches on your life, allow God to bring Psalm 103 to mind and help you to remember that his Word is always true.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

CROWN OF THORNS

“‘He committed no sin, 
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
When they hurled their insults at him, 
he did not retaliate; 
when he suffered,
he made no threats.
Instead, he entrusted himself 
to him who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; 
by his wounds you have been healed.
For you were like sheep going astray,
but now you have returned 
to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:22-25

paradidōmi3860 – to surrender, i.e. yield up, entrust, transmit: - betray, bring forth, cast, commit, deliver (up), give (over, up), hazard, put in prison, recommend.

ĕpiskŏpŏs1985 – a superintendent, i.e. Christian officer in general charge of a (or the) church (lit. or fig.): - bishop, overseer.                                                                                

            Because Jesus the God-man yielded himself completely to the will of the Father, we are able to be reconciled to God. In turn, we willingly cast ourselves upon the mercy of that same God; for he who spared not his own son, will graciously give us all we need (Romans 8:32).