THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE – An Easter Acronym

April 13, 2014

Is Easter only about colored, decorated eggs, the Easter bunny, “Peeps” and jelly beans? Is it simply another long weekend? Or is Easter about having the table set with fine china, an impressive Easter centerpiece and an excess of well-prepared food? What is Easter?

We can best understand Easter by seeing what God has to say about it. After all, it was His greatest act of love that prompts this annual celebration: The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Looking at an acronym for the word “Easter” will give us insight into its meaning.

E – Everlasting life. That’s the foundation of our celebration. In one of the most well-known Bible verses, we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

A – Assurance. In a long heart-to-heart session with His followers shortly before His death, Jesus assured them (and us) “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)

S – Salvation. Before Jesus made his physical appearance on earth, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, announcing Christ’s arrival. He said: “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

T – The Gift. Throughout the Bible, we are reminded that we are all sinners, deserving death. But we praise God that “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

E – Enemies. That’s what we were when Christ died for us. Because Jesus died, we are offered reconciliation. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “…when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)

R – Resurrection. To a woman who was grieving the death of her brother, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26)

Color the eggs. Eat the “Peeps” and jelly beans and enjoy your delicious family meal. But always remember God’s greatest act of love, and let the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection be the center of your celebration. That’s what Easter is all about!

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THEY CANNOT REPAY YOU

April 30, 2011

One morning this past week, as I was spending some time in the Word, this declaration that Jesus made popped right off the page. “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14 (NKJ)

Jesus gave a whole new meaning to being “blessed”. Did you ever think that you would be blessed when you don’t get repaid? When you do something for someone who will NEVER be able to pay you back? That’s contrary to our thinking and our culture, isn’t it?

Immediately my mind went to our missionary friends in Japan who are engaging in some intense clean-up after the recent earthquake and tsunami. The people they are working with lost everything, and will never be able to repay them, but….they are blessed!

Then my thoughts traveled to Southeast Asia where my nephew and his wife are translating the Bible in the middle of a tropical jungle for a people group that is in darkness. Both professionals, left their careers to bring light to a community of indigenous folk will never be able to repay them…but they are blessed!

I remembered another couple that is dear to us. They are both physicians. Leaving what could be very lucrative careers, they are headed to an African nation to serve a people that doesn’t have the means to repay them…but just ask them, and they will tell you how blessed they are!

Still thinking of Africa, another dear couple came to mind. They are both pilots, and even though they could both work in their field here and live comfortably, they are on a mission to use their training and skills to benefit another group of people who will never be able to repay the sacrifice they are making….but they are very blessed.

So I kept thinking of other selfless people who are giving with no possibility of repayment: my friend who works with imprisoned youth… the single lady who gave up a promising career to be a “mom” to dozens of orphans in Brazil…the well-to-do Swiss lady who spent many years teaching the natives of the jungles of Bolivia about Jesus, then founded a Bible School in Argentina…they will never be repaid by the people they serve, yet they are all SO blessed!

Thank God, that’s not the end of the story. They WILL be repaid! Not only they will be repaid, but all those who have served – and serve even now – people who have no means to repay them. And the payment will be very good. It will be eternal…they will enter into the joy of their Lord, the One who they served so unselfishly!

 


DRAW NEAR TO HEAR

January 22, 2011

When we go to church, or when we read the Bible, we hear God’s Word: the unchangeable, inerrant, perfect, eternal, life-giving, life transforming, powerful Word of God.  It’s really good to prepare ourselves to hear it. The advice that Solomon gave thousands of years ago in Ecclesiastes 5:1 is still applicable to us today. “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear…”

Drawing near to hear God’s Word, whether at church or in our private life, implies:
A willingness: “Speak Lord, for Your servant hears.” (1st Sam. 3:9)
A commitment: “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” (Psalm 85:8)
An urgency: “Let every man (and of course, every woman!) be swift to hear.” (James 1:19)
A blessing: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy.” (Rev. 1:3)
A relationship: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them.” (John 10:27)
A promise of life: “Listen carefully to Me…Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live.” (Isaiah 55:2,3)

So as we listen in church or open God’s Word alone, let’s understand the urgency of it; let’s be willing and committed to hearing – really hearing – Him. Let’s expect a blessing as we cultivate our relationship with Him and praise God for the promise of life to those who are careful to hear Him!


HIS TRUTH ENDURES TO ALL GENERATIONS

September 27, 2010

“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” Psalm 100:5

Something I remember most about my Mom was that she loved to read. In spite of that fact that she only had an eighth grade education, she was well read in the classics, and many other books. But because she loved the Lord, what she read most was her well-worn Bible. That means that it was very normal to see her in the big green chair in the living room, or by the dining room table with her Bible; reading and re-reading those passages that gave her so much wisdom, comfort, guidance and strength throughout her lifetime. Up until her last days, at 95 years of age, even with her mind dimmed by dementia and her sight diminished by macular degeneration, Mom would use a magnifying glass and read her large print Bible.

Happy Birthday, Denise!

Today is our oldest child Denise’s birthday. Please understand that I’m not bragging here, just standing in awe of what God was able to do in her life because HE is good, HIS mercy is everlasting and HIS truth endures to all generations…. Denise, who came into our lives 33 years ago, has become a wonderful lady. God has fashioned her into an intelligent, diligent, responsible, fun-loving, caring person. And as if that weren’t enough, she received Christ into her heart at a young age and has delighted in reading His Word ever since. When she was in Junior High and High School in Argentina, she would get up on her own before anyone in the house was up, fix her breakfast and retreat into her room where she would spend time reading her Bible, getting strength for the day. When she went off to college, she continued to do the same. Being a married working woman, she still is drawn to the Word as her source of daily wisdom and strength.

Remembering Mom, and thinking about Denise just confirms again how faithful God is. His truth DOES endure to all generations! It’s a proven fact in our family! Click on the link below and listen to this beautiful song and worship God because HE is good and HIS mercy endures forever, from generation to generation….  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAGZ8HmiWCM


Our Lavish God

July 27, 2010

Everything God does points to the fact that He is generous. He isn’t stingy, nor does He give His blessings by drips or in measurable increments. Observing His creation affirms that He does everything in a big way. How many celestial bodies are there? We can’t count them, and man doesn’t even have the capacity to know. How many grains of sand are there in the world? There’s no way we can tally them up, but He knows; He formed each one of them. Couldn’t He have been satisfied creating just one color, one kind of bird in the sky, or one fish family in the world’s oceans? Wouldn’t it be just as good with one kind of tree to grow in all areas of the earth, or simply one special fruit for all of us to eat? NO! He created countless species of each plant and animal, for His pleasure and for our enjoyment. That is the physical proof of His generosity, and the lavish nature of our Creator God.

In the spiritual realm, God is just as generous, and we have passages in the Bible confirming His lavishness. Look at some of the evidence:

GOD POURS HIS LOVE OUT IN US! Romans 5:5: “…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

GOD POURS OUT HIS FORGIVENESS! Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.”

GOD POURS OUT HIS MERCY! Psalm 103: 8, 17: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy…[it is]from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.”

GOD POURS OUT HIS SPIRIT ON US ABUNDANTLY!  Titus 3:5,6:  “…the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior…”

GOD POURS OUT FLOOD WATERS ON THE THIRSTY! Isaiah 44:3a: “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground…”

GOD POURS HIS SPIRIT AND BLESSING ON OUR CHILDREN! Isaiah 44:3b: “I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.”

GOD POURS ABUNDANT BLESSING ON GIVERS! Malachi 3:10: “ ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…and try my now in this’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’ “

                Unfortunately, we are often blind to God’s lavish nature. Asking for little, we settle for much less than He wants to pour out on us, and we live as spiritual paupers. God is lavish; He is generous, and His “pouring out” is always abundantly beyond what we could ever imagine. Let’s not forget how generous He is as we cry out to Him today!

“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to HIM be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. AMEN.” !  Ephesians 3:20,21                                                             


The Symbiosis of Trust and Praise

June 15, 2010

At www.Merriam-Webster.com we can read the following definition of symbiosis:

1 : the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms (as in parasitism or commensalism); especially : mutualism
2 : a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups) <the symbiosis…between the resident population and the immigrants — John Geipel>

sym·bi·ot·ic \-ˈä-tik\ adjective

sym·bi·ot·i·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb  

 I am not a biologist. But when I think about trust and praise, I’m reminded of a symbiotic relationship. They live “together in more or less intimate association or close union.” Can we separate trust and praise? I think not.

I praise God because He is who He said He is, and who He showed Himself to be throughout all of history, and in my own life!
I trust in God because He is who He said He is, and who He showed Himself to be throughout all of history, and in my own life!
I cannot fully trust Him without praising Him. I cannot sincerely praise Him without trusting in Him.

Praise is an expression of trust. Trust is an expression of praise.

In the measure that we learn more of God, and see how He works, we trust Him more fully and praise Him more sincerely. Praising Him for who He is – the faithful, compassionate, holy merciful, eternal, unchanging, forgiving, all-wise God, we realize He is trustworthy! Then, as we trust Him, we learn even more of Him, and praise Him more!

“But You are holy, enthroned in the PRAISES of Israel. Our fathers TRUSTED in You; they TRUSTED, and You delivered them.” (Psalm 22:3,4)

“I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I WILL TRUST; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be PRAISED.” (Psalm 18:1-3)

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart TRUSTED in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I WILL PRAISE HIM.” (Psalm 28:7)

The psalmist may or may not have understood the biological definition of symbiosis, but he had a very clear understanding of the symbiotic relationship of trust and praise! I say AMEN to his convictions. How about you?


Stuck in a Rut? Same Ol’ Same Ol’?

April 27, 2010

Just like we get bored with the same ol’-same ol’ in other areas, sometimes we just don’t read the Bible because we never did; we just don’t. That can be a rut. Or if we do read our Bible, reading it gets ho-hum. We may be in the habit of reading it just because that’s something we do. We get so used to the truths in it that we don’t allow God to really speak to us through it. We don’t get anything out of it, because we don’t expect to. That is also a rut. How about if we read God’s Word expectantly? How about if we pray, saying “Lord, open my eyes to the Truth You want me to know today.” Because God’s Word is living, powerful and applicable to every situation we face, we can open it, and let Him talk to us! Here are some suggestions I’ve found to be helpful to keep reading the Bible a fascinating daily experience:

  • Set aside a certain time and place each day to read your Bible. Early is good! Alone is wonderful!
  • Pray for God to speak to your specific needs. He will!
  • Open your Bible and have a pencil and notepad to write things you’re learning, or that God is reminding you of. If you don’t know what to write, here are some ideas you can build on:
  1. What is God showing me about Himself? Praise Him for each of His attributes you find!
  2. What is God telling me about myself? Sincerely confess sins that need to be confessed, and ask His help to make necessary changes.
  3. Is there an example that I should imitate in this passage? Imitate it!
  4. Is there a commandment I should obey? Ask Him for an obedient heart and right desires.
  5. Is there a promise I can claim? Write it on 3×5 cards, and put them everywhere. Read them often, and thank Him that He never goes back on His Word. NEVER!
  6. Does this reading point out something I should be thankful for? Thank Him!

God’s mercies and compassion are new on us every morning. He wants us to get out of our same ol’-same ol’ mode and expectantly look to HIM to renew our minds daily. Let’s step up to the challenge of discovering what He has to say to us; to renew our minds. He WILL speak to us. Let’s listen!


GOD ARRANGES THE MEETING

April 24, 2010

            A meeting with our supervisor at our place of employment can be arranged almost any workday. It might be more of a challenge to meet with the president of the company – although not impossible, we would have to work around his schedule. Meeting with the city Mayor would be an event that would require more preparation; and to meet with the Governor would be nearly out of the question. As average citizens, we can’t even imagine ourselves meeting with the President. Requesting a personal meeting with someone of such an important office is very unlikely. How about a meeting with God?

            The prophet Isaiah declared an eternal truth that should move us to awe and wonder. He wrote: “You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways.” (Isaiah 64:5) He is referring to God meeting us! He is referring to the one and only true GOD: the eternal, all powerful, all wise Creator and sustainer of all the universes; the faithful, unchanging God who delights in mercy and truth; God who is perfect and holy, who loves us with everlasting, unchanging, unconditional love and wanted so much to forgive our sins and bring us back to a right relationship with Him that He offered His perfect, sinless Son Jesus to die in our place. This is the God who meets us!

            Because He is the initiator of all good things, He meets us! We don’t arrange the meeting; He does! Getting an appointment with Him is humanly impossible. No planning or effort on our behalf could ever arrange a meeting with Him! Not because He’s too busy tending to everyone else, or to all the catastrophes in the world; but because He is too holy and righteous to meet with us in our sinful state. Nothing we ever do could make us worthy to be in His presence; but with a deep longing to meet with us, “He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6) We rejoice because we have the righteousness of Jesus Christ as our assurance that He will meet with us. God took the first step towards meeting us when Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

            When we remember God, His love, forgiveness and acceptance, we also recall His mercy and grace towards us. This causes us to worship Him and rejoice in the righteousness of Christ that is ours. He is faithful to meet us just as He met King David, who testified “You meet him with the blessings of goodness” (Psalm 21:3) God arranges the meeting…is there any meeting on earth that compares to that?


DO YOU READ THE MANUAL?

March 29, 2010

A week ago we purchased a new microwave oven. After installing it, Jorge said, “You’ll have to read the manual.” I was quick to say “Nah…” as I thought, “Why would I have to read the manual? I know how to use a microwave. After all, I’ve been using them since 1982. I can handle this.” So the manual sat, unopened on the table all week.

This new microwave has an “express cook” setting for 1 minute on the “1” button, for 2 minutes on the “2” button, etc. After complaining that “this microwave doesn’t let you do anything in time settings of less than a minute” for a couple of days, I finally discovered a +30sec button. That was better, but not good enough. I still needed smaller increments and kept mumbling and grumbling each time I wiped up spilled-over liquids. This morning, after cleaning up my boiled-over oatmeal, I finally gave in and opened up the manual. Almost immediately, I found the section on how to set it for however many seconds I need. That was so easy!

Jorge, having observed my frustration all week, simply commented: “There’s a good blog for you: Read the Manual”. “You’re right”, I responded as I enjoyed my oatmeal. I thought of how often frustration overtakes us, or we drown in despair. Worry and fear terrorize us and everything seems to go wrong. We try to figure things out on our own, and it just doesn’t go right. We complain and whine until something “boils over”! …All because we don’t take time to READ THE MANUAL – God’s Word. In Psalm 32:8, God promises us: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

No matter how many years we’ve lived the Christian life, and even if we think we can handle situations on our own, let’s consult His Word (THE MANUAL) every day, to get it right. In it we’ll find trusting in God replaces our fears; we’ll have peace in troubling situations; we’ll get guidance to abolish our perplexities; acquire His wisdom when we don’t know how to proceed,  and grace and strength when we think we just can’t go on….and SO much more!

Do you read THE MANUAL??


ACROSTICS

March 4, 2010

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Colossians 3:16

Words are intriguing. I enjoy dissecting them, rearranging them, studying them, learning new ones, comparing them, and even translating them! One way I like to relax is playing Scrabble Blast on www.pogo.com or the brain building word games on www.prevention.com.

It seems like this trait is inherited. Mom was a word-lover.  Anyone who knew her knows that she was not only an avid reader way into her 90’s, but she authored hundreds of beautiful poems that were published in a book when she was 93! She always did the crossword puzzle in the Akron Beacon Journal. She was invincible at Scrabble and Boggle. Up until the end of her life, she spent hours doing word searches, the large letter ones by then, and we would often find her reading her well-worn Bible with a magnifying glass.

Something I find entertaining is creating acrostics. Take a word, line the letters up vertically and use each one to start another one. This is one way to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”, as the Apolstle Paul encourages us to do. The more we meditate on His word, the richer we become in it. Let’s take the word PROMISE for example, and write words of what God promises us in His word: 

PEACE: “My peace I give you” (John 14:27) 

REST: “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

OLD things pass away when we are in Christ (2nd Cor. 5:17)

MERCY: “For with the Lord there is mercy” (Psalm 130:7) 

INHERITANCE: We have “An inheritance  … that does not fade away.” (1st Peter 1:3)

SALVATION: “Nor is there salvation in any other” (speaking of Jesus in Acts 4:12)

ETERNAL LIFE: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1st John 5:10)

My encouragement today is to get into the Word of Life, look up those promises, meditate on them, thank God for them, and make them part of your life. Grab a piece of paper and invent your own acrostic. That’s one way to meditate on His Word! In future blogs, I’ll post other ways I’ve discovered that we can let the word of Christ dwell in us richly….stay with me!


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