Quick. Put in the Ear Plugs

Disappointments

One of the interesting water activities in Florida is an airboat ride. Riding on the open waterways allows you to see various water creatures. Often you will see alligators sunning themselves on the shoreline. It is amazing that the ride is so noisy that many people wear ear plugs or ear muffs, yet the noise doesn’t seem to bother the wildlife.

We took our grandson on an airboat ride. He was filled with anticipation. He wanted to see the alligators in their natural habitat. Having hearing damage already, he made sure the driver placed him in the boat where he would have the least noise and vibration. He put in his ear plugs, then his noise reduction muffs, and was ready for the adventure.

An hour later, he removed the muffs and plugs and reminded us disappointingly that he had not seen anything – not even a duck or a shore nesting bird. And certainly no alligator!

Sounds like life sometimes, doesn’t it? We build up anticipation for a great adventure or event and when it is over, the only thing we have experienced is disappointment.

The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 5:5 that “hope does not disappoint us”. He is not speaking about anticipating some special thing or activity that we are looking forward to. He is reminding us that we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, or in modern English, “a joyous expectation of the heavenly state of God,” The prophet Isaiah had this to say about hope, “Those who hope in me [God] will not be disappointed” (49:23c). Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3).

If you are experiencing disappointment today, take out the ear plugs, remove the ear muffs, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. He will never fail you, never desert you, never disappoint you.

I Was Painting a Jacket

Do any of you know the old song, What A Difference a Day Makes?wedding-toast2

Well, today I am singing What a Difference a Year Makes. Sixty-one years ago today I stood in front of friends, attendants, and Rev. John A. Holt and said “I Do.” And I had no idea what that would mean.

That morning I had painted the black jacket on the cake top white because I was wearing the summer dinner jacket.

For sixty-one years I have seen the Lord’s faithfulness in every situation as Emily and I have shared our lives together. He has been faithful in giving four loving children, then faithful in the gift of eight delightful grandchildren and six great grandchildren. We have faced good times, times of testing, and times of disappointment but we have never faced even one moment when the Lord has not been faithful. I am reminded of Psalm 37:25 “I was young, now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread.”

I remember that as humans we are not righteous; all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Yet we have been declared righteous because all our sins have been forgiven. An eternal promise. How great is our God.

So today we thank Him for these rich benefits and acts of kindness. And I am singing What A Difference Twenty-two Thousand Two hundred Plus Days Make.

Little Guns

David prays in Psalm 25, “Let not my enemies triumph over me” (2b). We often think of the enemies as being the big guns, such as rifles, military gear, tanks, but in this context they are the smaller guns, such as discouragement or fatigue.

The Lord let me know that my enemy now is fatigue. The chemo treatments make we tired and weak and so all I want to do is sleep or lie in bed. My wife and I worked out a strategy. She sets the timer and I write for one hour. When the timer rings, I take an hour rest. So far it has been a working strategy.

With confidence, David prays, that God will deliver him from his enemies because of the close relationship that he and God have developed over the years together. Their relationship is personal, for he says, “Oh, my God”; because God has delivered him previously from his enemies: “He rescued me from my powerful enemy”(Psalm 18:7); and because David appeals ”To you, O Lord,” that is, to “Yahweh,” the highest name to which any one can appeal for deliverance.

I’m learning again with David what it means to “lift up my soul” (Psalm 25:1) and trust in my God.

Join me as you lift up your soul to God in the confidence that He will help us triumph over our little enemies. As my daughter used to say when she was raising four teenagers, “Losing a battle once in a while doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war,” So when our little enemy triumphs over us, we get up, we pray for victory, and enter the battle ground once again.

A Must-Tell Story

Last Sunday when I was too fatigued to attend my church’s worship service, a young couple from our fellowship agreed to give my wife a ride to the services. On the way home from church my wife commented that Pastor Scott always has a message to challenge a believer to grow. They said, “Yes, his messages are the reason we are both Christians.” And they shared a story that must be told. A story that vividly illustrates God’s orchestrating his love behind the scene.

Three years ago they attended a wedding that was conducted by Pastor Scott.

When the ceremony was finished, the couple said to each other. “He is so humble and so interesting to listen to; let’s visit his church.” They were not followers of Christ, but his message had intrigued them.

The couple came to the church service and became interested in the message so they decided to attend for a few times to find out more. After a few weeks they made the decision to trust Christ as Jesus Messiah, Immanuel, began attending Sunday Bible class, putting their little ones in children’s classes, joined a Bible study group and have become active in the church. This coming Sunday they will be greeters at the main door.

What the pastor shared was a challenge to the young couple just beginning their married life together, but it also reached into the hearts of another young couple and eventually made a difference for eternity.

It is a must-tell story because it so vividly illustrates God’s sovereignty and direction in our lives, for “he [God] will instruct him in the way chosen for him” (Psalm 25:12).

Nothing New Under the Sun

My wife decided this year to read the Bible through again. Each time she makes new Bird in flightdiscoveries. It is exciting to hear her share these insights whenever she sees something that she thinks will be especially interesting to me.

And she is discovering that “there is nothing new under the sun.” How many times have we heard that. (Matthew 13:52b “. . . like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Before air travel people didn’t know they could go across the ocean without ships. Before television we wondered how the gospel could be shared without missionaries moving to other countries.

Before we knew about “clouds” we lay on the green grass, looked at the sky, and talked about the beautiful formations the cumulus, nimbus, and cirrus clouds created. We knew nothing about information being stored in the “cloud.” What did these new words mean: Emails, Facebook, U-Tube, texting, drones, hacking, twitter, and tweets?

These words give meaning to Ecclesiastes 10:20: “Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words and a bird on the wing may report what you say!” Now we understand about those birds of the air and a bird on the wing. The Holy Spirit can be so creative.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had no idea what he was telling us but, inspired by God, he wrote about communication, and we are reminded that There Is Nothing New Under the Sun.

Makes you wonder what we are reading today in God’s Word, recorded through the inspired writers of the Scripture, about the discoveries that will be made by the generations to come? What an awesome thought.

 

Burden Bearing

Often we read a passage of Scripture and then one day as we read it again, the Lord gives us new insight into its meaning. This happened to me when I recently read, “Carry each other’s burdens. . . . (Galatians 6:2). I experienced a progression of carrying someone’s burden.

My dear brother in the Lord just had both his legs amputated below each knee. I just broke down and sobbed my heart out for him. I mailed a card filled with words of encouragement on it. I called to see how he was doing and assured him I was praying for him. And I went to visit him.

He was sleeping when I went into his room to visit him at the rehab. For awhile I just sat by his bedside, silently praying for him. His eyes opened and he gave a faint smile when he saw me. I read two Psalms to him and then prayed with him. He finally said, “Brother, just your presence cheers me up.” Was it possible that just being there had somehow helped to lift his burden? I pray that is so.

I gripped his hand and as I said goodbye, I rejoiced that the Lord had me experience the new meaning of bearing my dear brother’s burdens. An old hymn by Ira Sankey we used to sing was ringing in my heart, “Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Calvary, Calvary. Burdens are lifted at Calvary. Jesus is very near.”

Having recently been twice in the emergency room and then in the hospital I was the recipient of dear friends from two churches visiting me and helping to bear my burdens as they prayed with me. How deep is the Father’s love for each of us.

When we start looking for ways to lift our brother and sister’s burdens, then we’ll discover the energizing power of our resurrected Lord and the pleasure it brings to His heart when we help to lighten someone’s load.

The Joy of Family

From the physical standpoint, this week has been rather difficult. Twice in the emergency room and then admitted to the hospital. But God has bestowed on me great joy as I have had not only my wife beside me but my daughter and son with me. They didn’t come because I needed them right now. Their plans for several weeks were to be here this week to visit. We were going to do a lot of things together. The Scripture reminds us that “I know the plans I have for you.” My plans involved playing games, having a home movie night, taking them to a special restaurant. God’s plans were to have them here for encouragement and for help for Emily. The Scripture reminds me that “In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Instead we have had some wonderful times to talk, to be with each other, to pray together, and to reminisce. Lots of treasured memories!

And I remember Exodus 15:26, “I am the Lord who heals you.”

What a great God we serve!