Thursday, March 25, 2010

Those That Seek Me Early...

 B---e--e—p   B---e--e--p  B---e--e--p  screeched the alarm clock. Oh, how loud it was, and what a rude awakening to such a sweet sleep! I quickly shut the annoying alarm clock off and then settled down a little more comfortably under the covers while I seriously thought about going back to sleep. The night seemed far too short, and the bed was awfully cozy. After all, it was still dark outside, but in the quiet stillness of the morning the last part of Proverbs 8:17 flashed into my mind, proclaiming: “Those that seek me early shall find me.” Then in my heart, I cried out: “Father, I want to find thee this morning.”

There is something about those quiet morning hours before the hustle and bustle of the day that is so special, when it is just my God and me. It is there upon my knees and in spending time in his word that I find strength for the day, strength to meet the trials and whatever else the day may hold. Just as God says:

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength (Isaiah 30:15).

We all need some time alone with God each day. It is not enough to just have family worship, group prayers, or go to church. You cannot have an intimate relationship with God by those things alone. All these things help in our Christian walk, but it is not the same as a one-on-one relationship. You cannot pour out your heart to him and share with him your struggles, your sorrows, and your joys when you are not alone with God. You cannot find the strength you need for each trial if you do not spend some quiet moments alone with him.

I know that many of us have very busy schedules, but that is all the more reason to seek God everyday on a personal level. We need to take the time, even if we have to reschedule our lives and leave something undone or get up earlier. It can be really difficult to do, if we don’t have our priorities straight, but if it is important to us, personal devotions will become a part of daily life. I find that when I neglect this time with God, the day is so hard to get through! When I do spend time with God, it’s a lot easier to be cheerful and sweet and to face the trials that come. I personally like early mornings because it is quiet, still, and so much easier to hear God speaking to my heart than at any other time. King David saw the value of spending early mornings with God, even in the busy life of a king: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalms 5:3). Maybe there are circumstances in your life that prevent you from seeking God in the early morning hours, but do not let circumstances control you. Put first things first and spend time with God to build a personal relationship with him. This is vital to the Christian life.

God longs to spend that time with you each day, and he is waiting to give you peace and strength. May God not proclaim to us “and ye would not” (Isaiah 30:15)! Will you join me in taking time each day with God, learning to put your confidence in him more and more? Those moments will be some of the most precious you will ever have. It is there you will find peace. It is there you will learn God’s will for you and find strength to perform it.

Originally written for and published in the December 2009 Old Paths

Friday, March 12, 2010

One of our greatest talents - Influence

“...your most important talent – your influence.” I read and then I thought. I tried to think of all the talents that are important, speech, music, writing, reading, art, time etc.. Yes, time is a wonderful talent and besides time, I couldn't think of any other more important talent then the talent of influence. Every single person has it and I believe it is one of the most important. The deaf may not be able to hear, the dumb may not be able to speak, the lame may not be able to walk but they all have an influence.

Here is a quote I came across.

“Children are more influenced by sermons you act than by sermons you preach.” - David McKay

So true and I believe it goes for everyone. The way we act, the way we speak, the way we handle situations make a bigger impression than anything else.

I read a book not to long ago entitled “Taught By a Tiger” by Norma R. Youngberg. It was about some missionaries to the village of Pahit meaning “Bitter” in mountains of central Sumatra. Some of people wanted the missionaries, others did not. Those that didn't tried those missionaries to the utmost! When the missionaries planted a garden with many different kinds of vegetables and the villagers one day tilled it all up and planted mustard greens instead. When the plants grew and the missionaries came to see their garden they didn't find the things they planted but found a bunch of mustard greens. As much of a disappointment as that was, they didn't get angry, instead they just laughed. Another time, the missionary wife/mother, Mama-Joe as they called her washed the clothes and hung them on the clothesline to dry and the next thing they knew someone had the cut the line and all her freshly laundered clothes were in the dirt. She just cheerfully took them to the river and washed them again as she sang

Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!

Another time, Nee-pah, the one who was most adamant against them coming, who was most likely the instigator of all these things had an awful sore on his foot. Since he couldn't get it better, he decided to go the missionaries to have them help it. Well, more likely than not, because of all the previous efforts to make the missionaries angry had failed he wanted to try again. This time, Mama-Joe was rolling out dough for cookies when he just rudely(even in that culture) walked in the door and set his dirty sore covered foot on her dough. Oh, how awful the Mama-Joe must have felt!! But instead of getting angry she just said “Oh, I'm so sorry! Your poor foot! Does it hurt a lot?” and she got the things necessary to help his foot and told him to come back the next day for another treatment.

When all these failed to bring a bad reaction, Nee-pah resorted to poisoning the missionaries children. Mama-Joe told the orphan boy who was staying with them and helping them that he and the chiefs son could have some of the 'cakes' (Nee-pah had poisoned them but not known to the missionaries). So they eat them and then right away they got deathly sick but the missionaries were able to flush their stomachs and after days of much prayer and care they were well again. Oh! Surely the little children would have died if they had eaten them. By this time, the man had fled the village. In the time he was in the jungle a tiger wounded him just as he dove into a small cave which the tiger could not get into. There he was trapped for days for the tiger would not leave the entrance. He had no food and no water so he became very sick and on close to death. He remembered what the missionaries had said about God and the songs that they had sung. Finally then and there he called on God and believed in Him. He managed to get to the entrance of the cave and yell out “Help, Help” while the tiger was a way and then he crawled back in as the tiger came back. He lapsed into unconsciousness. The two boys who had eaten the poisoned cakes had gone into jungle where the missionaries 'servant' boy had taught the Chiefs son how to pray. They heard the cry for help and told the villagers. They went to the rescue and found him. They brought him to the missionaries house and they cared for him. They cared for him and loved him who had done so much and almost killed their children.

The point that I wanted to bring out in the story was the influence that the missionaries had on the village. Their utmost patience, their love, their kindness and actions had a profound influence for good. The villagers saw it, they wanted it. They saw the power of the real true God rather than the spirits and the gods they had served and they gave their hearts to the God of heaven.

Influence is a talent, and it is a power for good when the sacred fire of God's kindling is brought into our service. The influence of a holy life is felt at home and abroad. The practical benevolence, the self-denial and self-sacrifice, which mark the life of a man, have an influence for good upon those with whom he associates... - Ellen White

I pray that we will always remember that we have an influence and that we will use it for good. Keep looking up and pressing forward! :-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

How I've come to understand it....

Dear Maggie,

You asked, how does the story of Elijah and Enoch fit with what Jesus said in John 3:13 which is, along with the two preceeding verses: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believed not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, and even the Son of man which is in heaven."

I know it's long but this is how I've come to understand it.... I hope it makes sense to you. :)

The Bible says, "Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him." (Gen 5:24) Also, Hebrews 11:5 records: "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."

We need to not forget that nobody who doubts can understand God's Word (which I'm still learning.) It is by faith that we understand. The only way we can hope to see the picture of it all, through all the seeming contradictions and difficulties... is in maintaining complete confidence in it's Author. Part of it is that we have to keep in mind that God is the first, the last and the same forever. He cannot lie and therefore His word cannot be a contradiction. The Bible doesn't need harmonising, it is in perfect harmony with each and every other verse. It's just our part to recognize this harmony. (Which I can't boast of.) If we try and make it harmonise, we make a sad muddle, because in trying we believe show unbelief in it's perfectness.

When I was little, Mum would read us the gospels for storytime. I remember her once reading about Jesus promise to the disciples (and us) that if we had faith like a mustard seed, we could move mountains. I wondered at the time why the disciples didn't just try. Why didn't they test it out? Then I came to realize that that would've been unbelief, not really believing it, but almost taking it as a challenge.

Back on the subject. :) The truth is that Enoch was translated and taken to Heaven without seeing death, a thing that is only recorded of one other man - Elijah. Most men (and women) no matter how good die, and stay in the grave waiting for the resurrection to raise them up, (as is the case with David, "he is both dead and buried" and his grave remains today. Acts 2:29) When the Lord comes all the dead in Christ will be raised to immortality and the living will be translated like Enoch changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and be caught up to "ever be with our Lord." 1 Thess 4:15-17; 1 Cor 15: 51, 52

We're left with the remaining question, how do we understand John 3:13 in the light of the fact that Enoch was taken to be with God - who's throne is in Heaven? The question answers itself when we look at the rest of what Jesus was saying. He was talking to Nicodemus about new birth or sonship. "Except ye be born of above, ye cannot see the kingdom of God," verse 3 margin. Jesus was born from above when He came into this world, but other men have to be born again, as our first birth is of the earth. And when they are born again, from above, then their citiczenship is of heaven, and they walk and dwell with God. "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesian 2:5,6 Such can ascend to heaven like Enoch and Elijah; even as the saints will when Jesus comes again.

Jesus said, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." Jesus was in heaven (like we are in Heavenly places on earth) even while he was on earth. Even so it must have been with Enoch, for "he walked with God." He was born from above, and when he talked to other people about heavenly things, he shared what he knew, and told of things he had seen, just as Jesus had.

So it may and should be today. By His Holy Spirit - the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Father; we are made to know the 'deep things of God." 1 Cor 2:10 " The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him." Psalms 25:14a. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." So the Christian may talk of solemn and joyous realities which he has seen with his Father, and to those who listen he may seem to be raving. He has been in communion with God in the heavens, and he speaks what he knows, and testifies what he is seen. "What he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth, and no man receiveth his testimony." Only the Spirit of God can enable a man to discern heavenly things when they are spoken.

I know this all seems too much to be true of man, but remember that Christ's spoke of Himself in this connection, as He always did as the Son of man. He identified Himself with men in order that men might for ever be identified with Him. By Him we have access to God, being made partakers of the Divine nature. We have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Heb. 10:19), because in Christ we come down from heaven. By Him, and Him only we enter Heaven. Since we become sons of God by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, it is true that there is only "one new Man," namely Christ Jesus, so that even when all the saints shall have been taken to heaven, it will still be true that no man hath ascended to heaven but the Son of man. (John 15:4 Jesus says that we are in Him and He in us, so we are that closely identified together, that it is Jesus.) And since all this is true of us, we can see that the redemption of our body for which we wait is a natural consequence of our birth from above, and we know that we shall soon be taken bodily to be ever with the Lord.

Also, to do with angels being immortal, I found this verse in the Bible. It seems I'd never seen it before. When I found it it was like, 'Wow!'
"Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality." 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.

Also, with Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, talking about two different people at once, I think Psalms 72 is interesting in connection. It's a psalm of David's to Solomon, his son - but who else do you think he's talking about aswell?

I guess this is getting really long now, so I won't add anything more to it.

But I love you, Maggles!
P.S. You might have to read over it twice to get what I'm trying to say, I found it to be something that really roused my thinking.
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