OUR GOD INVENTED FREEBIES

August 8, 2016

Who doesn’t love a freebie? Dozens of freebie websites – legit or not-so-legit – prove that there’s a trend towards “if it’s free, I’m all in.”

Getting something for nothing isn’t new; God invented the concept. Everything we have is a freebie from God. If you are breathing, that is proof! In his famous speech on the Areopagus, The Apostle Paul stated that God “gives to all life, breath and all things.” (Acts 17:25). Thank God, He never sends us an invoice for “life, breath and all things.” They are free!

But there’s more. In Romans 8:32, Paul wrote that “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” That includes free peace, free forgiveness, free wisdom, free grace, free love and countless other freebies.

And there’s still more. God doesn’t limit free gifts to our time on earth. The most important free gift He offers is “eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Next time you see the word “FREE” in an advertisement, on a website or TV ad, remember that “FREE” isn’t a new concept. Our God invented freebies; let’s thank now Him for that! We certainly will thank Him forever as we enjoy His greatest free gift: eternal life!

(Join me every Monday of 2016 as I share more discoveries on my quest to know God better)

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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!


“IF IT WEREN’T FOR_____I WOULDN’T BE HERE TODAY!”

February 10, 2014

Many of us are familiar with the TV commercial that shows an elderly lady exclaiming, “If it weren’t for (product “x”), I wouldn’t be here today!” Like that lady, every person has a set of circumstances and a unique story; we can fill in the blank with nearly anything or anyone. We hear expressions like:

“If it weren’t for…

…my upbringing… my work ethic…my mom…my dad…my position in the company…my education…sheer luck…my abilities…my commitment…my 4th grade teacher…my best friend…

…I wouldn’t be here today!”

That may be true in the physical realm; but let’s look deeper, into spiritual issues. Eternal things are what really matter, anyway. Let’s fill in the blank with truths that Christ followers live by. We can declare that:

“If it weren’t for…

…Christ’s death that reconciled me with God… (Colossians 1:21,22)

…Jesus, who was made sin so that I can become righteous like Him…(2nd Corinthians 5:21)

…Jesus, who died for me when I was undeserving…(Romans 5:8)

…Jesus, the only Mediator I have before a just and holy God…(1st Timothy 2:5,6)

…Jesus, who gives me access to grace…(Romans 5:1,2)

…I wouldn’t be here today!”

Now let’s take all those truths, distill them down and fill in the blank with one name: JESUS. It reads like this: “If it weren’t for JESUS, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Praise God for Jesus! Thank Him – if you haven’t yet – for being the center of your life. Love Him, serve Him, and get to know Him more. Then one day, as we present ourselves before our Holy Father God by no merit of our own, we will fall on our knees before him, confessing once again, “If it weren’t for JESUS, I wouldn’t be here today!”


COUNT YOUR “I” BLESSINGS

November 11, 2013

I discovered that “I” blessings aren’t the easiest to come up with. The search intensifies…I am thankful for ice cream, ink, imaginations, innocence, intelligence, interest, indoor plumbing and instructions.

But one thing that stands out on my “I” blessing list is one we are assured of in 1st Peter 1:4. Peter wrote that because of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we have an “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that does not fade away”, and that it is reserved in heaven for us!

“I” blessings can’t get any better than an inheritance in heaven!


COUNT YOUR “H” BLESSINGS

November 10, 2013

In counting our blessings, we list our “H” blessings today. On the top of my list is heaven. Reading Revelation chapter 21, we get an awesome glimpse of it. We read that in heaven we will be with God himself. He will wipe away all our tears, and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain. Everything will be made new! There is no earthly blessing tantamount to that!

Even so, while on earth we can list other “H” blessings. Some of mine are: our son-in-law Hernan, health, hope, hands, hair (even on a bad hair day), hymns, help, history, heroes, hiking, hearing, honey, happiness, handymen, and my husband. Notice that the last two are adjacent. I’m very thankful that my husband Jorge is a willing, skilled handyman!

Are you making an “H” blessing list?


FAMOUS LAST WORDS

March 9, 2013

A few days ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died after a long struggle with cancer.  According to Gen. Jose Ornella, the Chief of the Presidential guard, the President’s last words were: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die…” words of despair and helplessness.

That detail about Mr. Chavez’s caught my attention, because a few days earlier I was thinking about “Famous Last Words”. Researching internet, I found some were interesting, some were cynical, and others very straightforward. Here’s a sample of what we can read on www.mapping.com:

Lady Nancy Astor (1879-1964) “Jakie, is it my birthday or am I dying?” (Seeing all her children assembled at her bedside in her last illness.)

Louis XIV (1638-1715) “Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?” (Noticing as he lay on his deathbed that his attendants were crying.)

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “I hope I haven’t bored you.” (Concluding what would be his last press conference.)

George Washington (1732-1799) “It is well, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.”

We can also find the last words of men of faith in the Bible. Let’s look at three of them: Joseph, Moses and Joshua.

Joseph proclaimed the certainty of God’s faithfulness in the future. Joseph knew that God was always with him, and he never stopped believing in the promise that God made generations earlier to his forefathers. In Genesis 50:24 we read: And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Moses gave words of blessing and assurance. Moses personally experienced God’s eternal arms holding him up throughout his lifetime, and often saw God fight the enemy for His people.  In Deuteronomy 33:27, after Moses blessed the children of Israel on his deathbed, he assured them that “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will thrust out the enemy from before you.”

Joshua reminded the people of God’s faithfulness in the past. Joshua experienced it all: the miracles, the journey across the wilderness, the giants, victories in battle, and the Promised Land. Knowing his time was short, he reminded his people of God’s faithfulness in the past. In Joshua 23:14 we read: “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”

We’ll all have last words one day. Will they be words of despair and helplessness? Expressions of regret?  Will they be words of blessing and assurance? How we live our lives now determines what our very last thoughts and words will be. The last verse of “Bless the Lord” (10,000 Reasons) by Matt Redman  reflects my desire to praise God, even to my last breath!   Please take time to listen to it and make it your prayer, too!


Is Heaven God’s Hand?

March 15, 2012

Today is our grandson Jehiel’s birthday. He’s five. Right from the beginning, he was very curious and observant. You can almost see the little gears of his brain in motion as an interesting image enters through the portals of his eyes, or when he hears a verbal explanation of whatever it is that has his attention at the moment. As those little gears roll, he interprets what he’s seen or learned, and is quick to act accordingly.

Last week I was helping him with his Bible story and verse for AWANA. He was to learn Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd”. In the workbook, there was a story about a sheep, with an allusion to heaven, along with Jesus’ words recorded in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” There was a cloud shape on the workbook page where he was to draw what he thinks heaven is like. After explaining the Good Shepherd – sheep – eternal life – heaven relationship to him (gears were grinding, I could almost see them…) Jehiel grabbed his marker and quickly outlined his hand on top of the too-small cloud, as he inquired: “Is heaven God’s hand?”

Jehiel - curious and observant!

Taken aback, I replied: “Well, not really. But if we follow our Good Shepherd, Jesus, He keeps us safe inside His hand until we get to heaven.” He immediately added a little stick figure inside his hand drawing, which he identified as himself. That was his interpretation of heaven: he was safe inside of God’s big hand.

No, heaven isn’t really God’s hand. But Jesus made the illustration that He would protect us, watch over us and care for us till we get to heaven so simple that even a five-year-old can understand it! And this Grandma praised God again for the assurance we have that we are safe in His hand!

 

 


WHAT DOES GOD DO WHEN I PRAY?

December 15, 2011

If you ever wondered exactly what happens in heaven when you pray, here’s some of what goes on….

HE DELIGHTS IN IT! “The prayer of the upright is His delight.” (Proverbs 15:8)

HE HEARS! “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)

HE PAYS ATTENTION! “He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.” (Psalm 102:17)

HE SUSTAINS ME! “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you….” (Psalm 55:22)

HE STAYS BY ME! “He shall call upon Me and I shall answer him; I will be with him in trouble.” (Psalm 91:15)

HE GIVES ME HIS PEACE! “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be know unto God’ and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)

God takes our prayers very seriously; they move Him to compassion and to action. We are invited to enter His throne room boldly to find grace in time of need. Let’s delight God by praying more!!


EPITAPHS – Capturing the Essence

August 25, 2011

Reading biographies is an excellent learning experience. We can always learn something from someone else, even if that happens to be a “good example of how not to be”, a phrase I heard my mother frequently declare. A book I enjoy reading is a compilation of brief biographies of hymn writers entitled “Then Sings My Soul” by Robert J. Morgan. Finishing the biography of a certain hymn writer, a simple phrase caught my attention. The author simply stated: “Eliza died in 1920, and her grave at Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia reads simply: ‘Eliza Edmunds Hewitt, Hymn Writer, Author of Sunshine in My Soul’ “. In the story of Eliza’s life, the author related that she was a woman who had a very full and meaningful life. She was a teenager during the Civil War, and because of her love for children, she became a teacher. She suffered severe injuries in an accident, an as a result, became an invalid and had to give up that vocation that she so loved. Even though her life was replete with pain and disappointment, Eliza chose not to let her circumstances take away her joy, and became a creator of poems and hymns. No doubt she could have had written volumes about her own life, yet it was summed up in seven short, simple words that live on: “Hymn writer, Author of Sunshine in My Soul”. Through the epitaph her loved ones had inscribed, the essence of all that really mattered in her life was captured.

A parade of well-known biblical figures marched across the screen of my mind, and I wondered what their epitaph would say, if they had them. Although there isn’t much evidence to prove the validity of it, I recently read that the tomb of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, was found and his epitaph says something to the effect of “Here Lies Lazarus. He Was Dead Three Days.” My mind wandered as I pondered on the Apostle John. Would his epitaph have said “John, the Beloved Disciple”? The inscription on the Apostle Paul’s tombstone could well have read “Here Lies Paul, Chief of Sinners, Saved by Grace”. We can imagine what would be fitting for David: “A Man After God’s Own Heart”, or Abraham, “Friend of God”. Can we envision Joseph’s tombstone saying: “Forgiving Brother, Showed Mercy”? Queen Esther could have had inscribed: “Beautiful, Courageous, She Saved Her People” on her grave. The essence of the most important character trait or accomplishment of these people could have been recorded to give the world a glimpse into their lives for millenniums after their departure. Curiously reading interesting epitaphs, I found that the words inscribed on the tombstones of both famous and common people reflect the spirit of what that person was or did. Some of the interesting ones read: “Jefferson Davis – At Rest – An American Soldier and Defender of the Constitution”. On the tombstone of someone whose name we don’t know, a loved one read: “Loving you, Mick, Has Made My Life Richer”. A gentleman named John Dryden (1631-1700) had the following inscribed on his wife’s tombstone: “Here Lies My Wife: Here Let Her Lie! Now She’s at Rest, and So Am I”. Alexander the Great is buried under the heading: “A Tomb Now Suffices Him For Whom The World Was Not Enough”, and Al Capone’s has three simple words: “My Jesus Mercy”. The list is unending; the inscriptions may be moving, joyous or humorous. They may be a fitting eulogy, or a prejudiced opinion of a “loved” one who perhaps finally got a chance to express what was left unexpressed in life; but in all cases, the epitaph attempts to accomplish the same purpose: to concisely reflect who the departed person was, or what was accomplished in the life that was snuffed out.

How could anyone ever even attempt to encapsulate 62, 94, 25 or even 10 years of achievements, struggles, gains, losses, joys and suffering into less than 10 words to display to the world? Where can the precise words be found that would portray a life that was lived to the fullest? I look down the road and see my own loving spouse and adult children after my passing. Will it be difficult for them to formulate seven, or 10 or even 5 words to inscribe on my tombstone? What words will they choose? How I’ve lived my life will determine that. Because of the uncertainty of life, I don’t want to make it complicated for them in the event that they be faced with this task sooner than we all think. How should I live my life from now on so that the epitaph they write for me speaks clearly and accurately of my values, my goals and my relationships? How should I live every day to reflect my faith in my Heavenly Father whose mercy is new every morning, and by whose grace I will be welcomed into His presence? Would the epitaph I prepare for myself contain essentially the same message that they would choose to inscribe for me? Regardless of how many minutes, days, years or decades I have left on this earth, I want to live what’s left of my life purposefully. I want to live it in such a way that my loved ones who remain when I’m gone have no doubts as to that purpose and my character, and that they might encapsulate the essence of my life in a few short, meaningful words that would be a testimony of God’s unending love and faithfulness to future generations. My desire is that God be exalted in my life, AND through my epitaph!


One More of God’s Singers Went Home

May 18, 2011

Ana Nemec - One of God's Singers

My mother-in-law was a singer. She had a beautiful voice, and used it to sing praises to God. In her younger days, she often sang solos in church. As she aged and couldn’t do that anymore, and too weak to even leave the house, she spent hours listening to old hymns by her well-worn cassette player.

On Saturday, Jorge talked with his mom for the last time. Her voice was weak and her words were slurred; she was physically incapable of singing a song of praise, but with the phone on “speaker”, across 8,000+ miles (from Argentina to Ohio), we were able to rejoice with her as she made tremendous effort to repeat over and over, “Gracias a Dios”. That’s all she repeated.

Today, one more of God’s singers went home. She was anticipating her home-going for the last few months. She often expressed a longing to be with the Lord Jesus, who saved her at a young age and faithfully and lovingly held her hand for so many years. Ana Nemec was 85 years old. Now she is singing with a perfect voice, praising God. I’m sure her song is loud, and clear and beautiful…

Click on the link  to hear a wonderful old song that I was reminded of today: “When All of God’s Singers Get Home”  http://youtu.be/2I77hsX4vh4


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