Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Day

Tomorrow will be Christmas Day and for sure I won't have time to write what I want to say, so I'll do it today. I made several discoveries this year when I sat to read the words to all the Christmas songs and Scriptures included in my hymnal. Some were not the familiar first verses, but the obscure third, or the last.

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:1-7)

"How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given. So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven. No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
"O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell. O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel." (O Little Town of Bethlehem)

"Break forth O beauteous heavenly light to herald our salvation. He stoops to earth, the God of might, our hope and expectation. He comes in human flesh to dwell, our God with us, Immanuel. The night of darkness ending, our fallen race befriending." (Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light)

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in  heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)

"For lo the days are hastening on by prophets seen of old, when with the encircling years shall come the time foretold, when the new heaven and earth shall own the Prince of Peace, their King, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing." (It Came Upon the Midnight Clear)

Insightfully yours,

The Desire of Every Nation

The Desire of Every Nation is mentioned in at least two Christmas carols that I know of. Maybe that is because he is associated with the peace we all want. Here is one instance:

"O come Desire of nations
bind in one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace." (O Come O Come Emmanuel)

John wrote
"In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through Him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through Him.
All that came to be had life in Him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.
"...the Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and He was coming into the world.
He was in the world that had its being though Him, and the world did not know Him.
He came to His own domain and His own people did not accept Him. But to all who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of Him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man, but of God Himself.
The Word was made flesh, He lived among us, and we saw His  glory, the glory that is His as the only son of the Father, full of grace and truth."

"Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me. But in Bethlehem's home there was found no room, for Thy holy nativity; O come to my heart Lord Jesus: There is room in my heart for Thee.
When the heavens shall ring and the angels sing at Thy coming to victory, let Thy voice call me home saying, 'Yet there is room. There is room at my side for thee.' And my heart shall rejoice Lord Jesus, when Thou comest and callest me." (Thou  Didst Leave Thy Throne)

May you have peace this Christmas - peace with God and peace with man.
Insightfully yours,

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sleepless Night

Last night I couldn't sleep.That's been happening lately, so I devised a plan. From now on when I can't sleep, I'll get up and read my hymnal. Yep, you read me right. Sometimes I can sing myself to sleep with hymns memorized long ago, but when my legs won't relax in bed, it's hard to remember the songs unless I mentally go through the alphabet. So last night I got up, put on a jacket against the coolness of the house, picked up the hymnal from its permanent place on the piano, and sat in  my favorite chair.

At the front of my hymnal are the songs praising God, the Creator. Most of these I know, or at least I can read the music, so I had no trouble singing them in my mind. Within a verse or two (I sang all of the verses) I sensed something I've been missing: awe, praise, wonder, joy, and peace. But don't misinterpret that last word to mean rest, or even that I was getting sleepy. I wanted more, more of this sense of God's presence.

I finally settled on the hymn I'd go to sleep with because I'd learned all three verses as a child. "This is My Father's World" directs me to listen for the sounds of nature, the music of the spheres. It says the carols sung by birds, the beauty of white lillies, and the dawn of each day will tell me something new about my Creator. Finally the writer of the hymn assures me that "though the wrong seems oft so strong," God is still in charge. The battle with sin is not finished, but one day, Jesus, who gave his life for me will be satisfied, when earth and heaven are one.

I rather hope I stay awake again tonight.

Insightfully yours,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Shall I Do With My Guilt?

On this day and in this age, it seems we don't know what to do with our guilt. When I was a kid, we ran and hid if we did something wrong, like Adam and Eve. We made excuses to cover our bad deed. Then  not too many years ago, groups "claimed responsibility" for car bombings and such as if to brag about what they had done. Was that just safety in numbers or a shift in thinking? Today the phrase "damage control" has crossed the political landscape more than once as a politician or CEO has had to "walk back" remarks he "misspoke." Where is truth? Where is integrity? Where is forgiveness?

The Bible records the very first murder - a pre-meditated murder. Cain, being jealous of his younger sibling, Abel, persuaded Abel to accompany him out to his field. There he attacked Abel, killed him, and presumably buried him. But guess who saw.

The Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother?" Cain out and out lied. "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" But God persisted. "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground."

If that wasn't enough of a word picture, God pronounced a curse on Cain. He was to be driven from the ground which opened its mouth to receive Abel's blood from Cain's hand. God said, "When you work the ground (Cain was a farmer) it will no longer yield its crops for you, and you will be a restless wanderer on the earth." How would you respond to that?

Cain said, "My punishment is  more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land and I will be hidden from your presence. I will be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me." God assured Cain that he would not be murdered. Then, the Bible says, Cain went out from God's presence.

The Bible records another pre-meditated murder (II Samuel 11:1-12:25) and the murderer's response when confronted by a prophet from God.

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgression. Wash away all my iniquity and  cleanse me from my sin for I know my transgression, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and  done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge...Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than  snow...Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within  me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

What a difference! As we look for leadership in our country, and to those who we would follow, what do we see? Are they (and we) hiding from responsibility, boasting as we claim responsibility, or is there a willingness to bow before God? For what good is there in self-justification? What solace is there in self-pity?
I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive our  sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Insightfully yours,

Another New Part

This isn't really a new post in the real definition of a "New Post." This is just an explanation of where I have been and what I've been up to. I have another NEW KNEE. That makes two. No more!

This one (I say) was easier than the last because I had a spinal and was put to sleep but I didn't have a general anesthetic. This time I woke up feeling good. Last time I slept for three days +. Last time my whole body was sick. This time it was only a knee. This time I'm way ahead on my recovery and my therapist is happy. Last time I flunked therapy.

So even though I told my therapist to take it easy - I didn't want to be his poster child, I think I may have changed my mind. I really am motivated to see what this old bod can do with new knees.

Insightfully yours,

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Looking Back, Looking In

Sometimes it is very worthwhile to look through old writings. I don't do journaling, but I do have several little blank books that I've filled with stuff. One has memory verses filed alphabetically (so I can put myself to sleep at night reciting them), one has only prayers of thanks, another has writings based on calendar days (many days missing) and one has longer Bible passages I've memorized or want to memorize.

Today I was looking through one of the books and came across this:
"There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin.
He only could unlock the gate of heav'n and let us in." (from "There is a Green Hill Far Away")
I can remember someone challenging that statement one time. He said that Jesus was just a man but was so filled with the Holy Spirit as to be perfect. At that time, even though I was a Christian having asked Christ into my life some years before, I did not know what the Word of God taught on the subject. I simply knew through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my own heart that that wasn't right. How could one human being dying for another human being cleanse him from all sin? How could one human being live inside another human being to change and direct his life?

I knew that the influence of people could change me from the outside in, temporarily. But I also knew I needed a permanent scouring from the inside out and only God could do that. It wasn't until I began a study of the Gospel of John (in Bible Study Fellowship) that I found the stability of the Word of God confirmed what I knew through the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself said, 'I and the Father are one.' (John 10:30). To Philip he said,' He who has seen Me has seen the Father.' (John 14:9). To the blind man he said, 'You have seen Him and He is talking to you right now.' Then He accepted the man's worship. (John 9:37)

Jesus, God Incarnate, the Word Made Flesh, Christ, Messiah can cleanse you of all sin and change you from the inside out. II Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."

TV's Jack LaLayne said, "Don't you just wish sometimes you could be born again?" His conclusion was that that was impossible but you could firm up those old flabby muscles by exercise. May I say not only can you be born again, but Jesus told Nicodemus you must be born again to see God, to belong to Him, and to understand His Word. As He changes your life from the inside, you automatically become younger and more beautiful because of His  beauty. II Corinthians 4:16 says that though our outer man is progressively decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being progressively renewed day after day.

Sometimes it pays to look back.
Insightfully yours,