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!


August 15, 2012

Some of the most comforting truths about God are found in Deuteronomy 33:27. There we read “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” As I read that verse not long ago, I picked it apart; because it was so encouraging to me, I want to share my word-by-word “picking” with you.

THE – not “AN” eternal God, but “THE” eternal God…implying uniqueness; the ONLY God.
ETERNAL – forever and ever; “…the Beginning and the End, Who IS and who WAS and who IS TO COME, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8)
GOD – Sovereign, compassionate, wise, caring, concerned!
IS – Present tense. That always means right NOW. His arms are ALWAYS holding me up, no matter the circumstance!
YOUR – Quite personal; yours; mine; ours. Not just the God of the Old Testament or the New Testament, but your God, my God, our God!
REFUGE – a place of safety and security in times of distress, danger, storms, fear, attack. He is my protection!
AND – as though all of the above were not enough, it could have ended right before the “and”. Wouldn’t that have been reason enough to praise Him? But there is an “and”…
UNDERNEATH – to hold me up, giving stability and security.
ARE – in the present tense, this is my present assurance right NOW; it’s always my present assurance!
THE – Unique; one-of-a-kind. The ONLY arms I can lean on!
EVERLASTING – Because they belong to my eternal God, they will ALWAYS be there!
ARMS  – The Psalmist declared, “You  have a mighty arm…” (Psalm 89:13); an arm of strength and assurance, redemption and power!

I praise God for the rich truths in this verse. Although I may be unaware of them, and even though I don’t always feel them, His arms are holding me up – ALWAYS! No matter where I am or what I’m facing, He is my refuge and His arms are there for me! I just have to believe it, and lean on those everlasting arms that will never, ever, ever let me down!

…So Where’s the Lord in All of This?

December 9, 2010

Sometimes circumstances overwhelm us, plans don’t turn out the way we want, we are thrust into unexpected situations, or maybe we just don’t know what to do next. It’s easy to look around and ask: “So where’s the Lord in all of this?” When that question pops up in our mind, it’s good to know the truth about exactly where He is. Here’s that truth:

HE IS NEAR ME WHEN I CALL UPON HIM! The Psalmist affirmed that “The Lord is NEAR to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
HE IS UNDER ME – HOLDING ME UP! In Deuteronomy 33:27 we read a very comforting promise: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
HE IS GOING BEFORE ME! God promises me: “I will go before you and make the crooked places straight.” (Isaiah 45:2)
HE IS BEHIND ME AND ABOVE ME! In Psalm 139:5 we are assured of His protection. It reads: “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.”
HE IS BESIDE ME, HOLDING MY HAND AND ASSURING ME OF HIS HELP! Through the prophet Isaiah God promises me “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)
HE IS WITH ME ALWAYS! The comforting promise Jesus made to His disciples before He ascended to heaven is still valid today. He said: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

So that’s the truth about where He really is. He is near me, under me, before me, behind and above me, beside me, holding my hand, and assuring me of His help. He is ALWAYS with me. THAT’S WHERE HE IS!

What’s Your “Sleep Number”?

August 26, 2010

Like a magnet, that question drew me to the TV. My ears perked up when I heard “sleep number” and I dropped everything I was doing in another room to learn about the product being offered: an innovative mattress that is supposedly far superior to all others. Among other facts, the announcer assured the public that 87% of the users of this mattress testify to sleeping more soundly.

It’s indisputable that a good mattress contributes to a night of comfortable sleep; but that isn’t the sole factor. That 87% stat can be improved to 100%, regardless of the mattress that sustains our weary body if our “sleep number” is 33:27…or 3:4-5….or 4:8. Allow me to explain:

At the end of his life, God’s servant Moses, who spent countless days and long nights wandering in the desert – without a “sleep number” – wrote in Deuteronomy 33:27:The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are His everlasting arms.” Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. (Deut. 34:7) Apparently, his “sleep number” was 33:27, the comfort of knowing that God’s everlasting arms were underneath him, sustaining him no matter what!

Many years later, King David revealed his “sleep number”. It was 3:4-5. David’s rebel son Absalom was attempting to overthrow the kingdom when David, fleeing from him wrote in Psalm 3:4-5: “I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me…I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” Under unbearable emotional pain and untold stress, David was assured that God heard his cries, and he rested peacefully in God’s sustaining power!

On another occasion, David again testified to getting peaceful rest even in the most troubling times of his life. “Sleep number” 4:8 attests to that. “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

Those are my “sleep numbers”. If you toss and turn, not being able to get a good night’s sleep, don’t invest in a “sleep number” mattress just yet! Write down these eternal truths, put them on your nightstand and read them often. Memorize them. Thank God for them. Most of all, commit your entire life to Him, and rest in His peace…with HIS “sleep number”!!

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