It is Easter Sunday afternoon, and we have just finished our more than abundant dinner. We did not have any family this year, so it was just the two of us. I feel a nap coming on, but thought I would take a few minutes to blog about this past week, including the nuggets of truth God is showing me in my daily meditational time.
Last Monday was the final day of Greek class here at ILNC. I have been teaching the class for three years, and had three students stay with me all the way to the end. From this point forward we are each going to continue in Greek on our own, using an on-line class with Bill Mounce, the First Man in Greek studies. He has a tremendous web site (http://www.teknia.com/) which not only has free tools to use in Greek studies, but also free classes. I want to stay up with my Greek, so this seems to be the next logical step for me...to learn from the guru of Greek.
Last Monday also brought with it four inches of heavy snow, which brought down several tree branches. It didn't last long, mostly all gone by Wednesday, but we have still had cool mornings...temps being down in the 20's and 30's. The afternoons have warmed up to the 50's, but have been windy and damp, thus cool. Today seems to be the change...it is sunny and feels warm, even though it's still in the 50's.
Freeds had us over for supper on Monday night, to celebrate my 59th birthday....which actually occurred on Thursday. I received many nice cards and a few gifts. I ordered a cake for our Thursday night ILNC Town Meeting, which had a good turnout...maybe 35 residents there. This was a good birthday year, but next year...the year of the big 6 O, I would like to have a little get away down to my favorite area of the country...North Carolina Smokies. It's something to dream about anyway!
God's Word for Monday is that we must consecrate ourselves to God in order for Him to sanctify us. We move from unholy to holy as we are cleansed by Him, but He cannot cleanse us until we are totally submitted to His will. (Leviticus 11:40 and 20:8)
Tuesday I was preparing for our small group meeting in which we would discuss I Thessalonians 4:1-12, the very passage on which I did my senior exegetical paper before graduating from Lee University back in 1991. About an hour before the group was to meet, during the middle of our supper meal, I received a call from my spiritual mentor, Lorna. She and I both had birthdays on the same day (April 9), and she turned 91 this week. Her mind is still very sharp, but her body is failing. She has congestive heart failure and diabetes, and other issues, and that night she was having trouble breathing. We called emergency and I followed the ambulance 20 miles to the hospital. I stayed with her in emergency care until her son could get here from Lansing...about two hours away. Her daughter flew in from Montana the next night. Even though I thought Lorna would be gone to her eternal home by the time we got to the hospital, she has come through once again. They've been treating her for various infections, but she should be back home today or tomorrow.
While I was with her, I really didn't know exactly what to do, but I wanted to assure her I was there and would stay with her until her son arrived. I read her some scriptures, and sang to her, and talked with her. She could not respond as she had an oxygen mask on and other paraphernalia hooked up to her. However, she kept squeezing my hand, so I knew she could hear me. I felt at peace, and I know she did also, knowing no matter the outcome, Jesus was in control. She probably would have preferred to go on to heaven, and I would have only rejoiced for her. She's lived a long, difficult life, and has done much to increase the kingdom of God. She was an evangelist at the age of 19, taking her guitar with her...singing and preaching. She planted the Pickford, MI Church of the Nazarene in her early years. She preached along side of the renown Uncle Buddy Robinson in camp meeting. She was a true caregiver for her parents and her husband as they all succumbed to death after long illnesses. And now she is at the stage where she probably won't be able to live independently. I am sure that makes going on home to heaven all the more desirable. I want her to have her peace and rest, and not have to struggle with physical limitations. But, as with all of us, her time is in God's hands. That's a safe place for it to be.
In Tuesday's words from God I read a commentary that said the only thing God could not create was love from a free being. He created us with the capacity to love, but the freedom to choose the object of our love. That is the ultimate love gift...the gift of freedom to choose. I wouldn't want someone to love me because I forced them to, or out of obligation, but because they chose to love me. I choose to love God with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5)....I am totally committed and completely consecrated to Him.
On Wednesday Paul and I dropped my SUV off for a $15.95 oil change. By the time we picked it up on Thursday, the bill came to $411.23. Turned out to have a bad tie rod and a leaking oil pan/gasket. Isn't that how it usually goes? Maintenance on vehicles is like sin...it always costs more than you want to pay. And can you really trust the mechanic any more than you can trust the devil? The good thing is that I asked God to not let it cost more than I could pay in cash, and even though it depleted my savings almost, at least I could pay the bill and not have to charge it. I am trying very hard to not use charge cards and to get debt free. I believe we need to be good stewards with what God has given us, pay our bills, and trust Him in the needy times. I am sure I will have plenty of opportunities to put Him to the test.
Going along with an earlier theme in this week's meditations, today's Word is that our consecration, without limitations or restrictions, is the absolute prerequisite for victorious Christian living. It precedes the "amazing things" that God will do in our lives if we are surrendered to Him.
I already mentioned that Thursday was my 59th birthday, and with all the cards, phone calls, and cake at the Town Meeting it was a special day...more so than normal. I felt badly that Lorna was spending her birthday in the hospital, but at least she had her two precious children at her side, and I know nothing on this earth would bring her any more joy than having them near to her. It has been three years since she saw her daughter.
I was reminded in Thursday's passages that God will not tolerate sin. Nothing is hidden from him, and we will not be victorious or have His blessings as long as we keep sinning. We can be sure that our sins will find us out, and the sad thing is that sin has a rippling effect...like a stone being tossed in the water. It affects innocent ones around us, and they are hurt because of our disobedience. I can think of so many instances and examples to explain this, but I'll just say "How true, how true!". Sin is just not worth any momentary pleasure it may give us. The pleasure evaporates, but the effects of sin can damn our souls and destroy the ones we love. NOT WORTH IT!!!!
I had a busy week at work. We had a lot of mailings to get out this week for the waterfront/boats, the RVers, and the leaseholders. It's that season...boats come out of storage and get put into the lake; RVs are opened up and the water is turned on in our bath houses and cabins; and leaseholders are coming back north after being gone south all winter. Golf carts are out and about, kids on bikes, a ball game going on at the ball field yesterday, lots of people walking or working in their yards. I love spring. I told God the other day I am so glad that I was born in the spring time. I love the spurt of new life in the spring time. The perennials and trees and bushes start budding out, and birds are chirping and busy building their nests. Swans and geese are flocking to the lake. It's just the greatest of all seasons to me. Oh...and it's strawberry shortcake season!! We have it at least once a week for our main meal.
My devotional reading on Friday morning reminded me that the two greatest forces in the world are love and sin...but love is greater, more powerful than sin. Jesus went through hell to conquer sin, and that is the power of love...it conquers the other most powerful force. And to think...that powerful force resides within me through the agency of the Holy Spirit!!! May the love of Jesus flow out through me to reach those who need His love the most.
Saturday...sunny, but a little cool. We had outside projects planned, so we appreciated the nice weather. We took a back hoe, a truck, a flat bed trailer, a rake, a pitch fork, and a shovel and headed down to a camp lot that had a cottage demolished on it last fall. We finished cleaning off the lot, and it felt good to get the exercise and to see it all cleaned up before the neighbors came back from the south. I did a lot of walking yesterday, with the dogs, and by myself. Just wanted to be outside!
The Word for Saturday is from Matthew 24:12-13: "Jesus said,
"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
We are to be reminded that it's not how we start our journey, but how we end our journey that determines our destiny. God wants our complete loyalty. Anything that takes our attention away from God must not be tolerated in our lives, for divided loyalty will not be acceptable by Him. I know...I sense it all around me...that Christians are getting weary and more tolerant with the world. I listen to what they are watching on TV and how they spend their time and money, and I see other things competing for their devotion and passion. I guess that's what bothers me the most...I don't sense the passion for things of God as strongly in the church as I did when I was younger. The message is there, but the response is weak, the drawing is weak, there are too many other things competing.
Lord Jesus, I pray that I grow more and more fervent in my devotion to you as the time grows shorter. I am so thankful for what I read in your Word this morning from Ezekiel 11:18-20:
I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their hearts of stone and give them tender hearts instead so they will obey my laws and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.
Lord, thank you for my tender heart...thank you for keeping my focus on you. May it ever be so, and all the more so as I march toward my eternal destiny. And may I care about those who are lost and lonely and need you in their lives. May I be privileged enough to represent you to them. May I never fail to see that opportunity before me, and I pray you empower me to be totally effective for you! Amen.