I used a word generator to pick a word to write about for this post and I tried to keep it short. I did have to hit the "generate" button several times to get a word I thought would work. It was an interesting exercise which might be good to do more often. :-) If you would like to try it yourself, here is the link to the word generator I used.
Image is something that people are very conscious of in this world. It doesn't really matter if we are part of a sophisticated, highly educated culture or what is considered a more "primitive" culture, people are concerned about what other people think of them and the image that they are portraying to others.
We read in Romans 8:29, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
What we see here is that God predestinated those who are His children to be conformed to the image of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants us to represent His Son in this world, and to live our lives in a way that is conformed to Christ - all of our lives, not just our public image.
What is your image to those around you? Do they see the image of Jesus Christ in you or do they see some other carefully contrived image of your own creating? Do they see a sports fan, a quilting queen, a "very important person", a rebel, a hero, an activist, a chief, a soldier, an addict, a middle-class soccer mom, a criminal, a rich person, a poor person? There are so many images that we can make for ourselves that it is impossible to name them all. Some images we may desire for ourselves, others we don't want, some we hope nobody ever notices.
If you are a Christian you were not meant to bear any other image than that of Jesus Christ. This is both difficult and wonderfully freeing.
Colossians 3:9-11 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Here's another free scripture graphic for you to save and use. I've also included a "blank" one below for you to add your own verse or motto. Right click on the graphics and save them to your computer, or for a larger size go to the link below each one and click on the download button in the lower right corner. I am not sure where I found this vintage graphic.
This piece on shut-ins is written by the Christian poet Martha Snell Nicholson. She was a shut-in and invalid suffering from several incurable diseases and was bed-ridden for years. She apparently wrote this during WW II as she mentions food limitations.
Since one of our challenges this month is to visit or do something for a shut-in, it seemed like this was an appropriate thing for us to read. I know it moved my own heart, partly because in some ways I can relate and partly because I know there are is more I could do for others who are in much worse situations than I am. I hope this will make you stop and think. Some of her expressions and experiences are a bit outdated by modern standards, but I'm sure you can easily think of how they translate today for the invalids and chronically ill. Many of the things that she suggests doing are still very applicable.
Mark 1:41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. While we cannot cleanse lepers or heal sick people today, we certainly can be the compassionate hand of Jesus reaching out to those who are suffering, bringing them help and comfort as we are able.
by Martha Snell Nicholson
I would write a word on behalf of my fellow shut-ins, bespeaking for them a deeper understanding of, and sympathy with, their peculiar problems. I have had letters from hundreds of them and I never knew a finer, more courageous set of people - this silent, suffering army, fighting daily battles, their victories too often unrecorded save in the books of Him who said, "I was sick and ye visited me." They are among the unsung heroes of the world, and unsung too are the praises of those who devote their lives to caring for these sick ones. Among these I am proud to number my own dear husband who has never faltered in his devotion to me.
The problems of shut-ins are many and, of course, varied according to their circumstances. Some who are married must learn to shop by proxy; must plan food for the family even though the very thought of food sickens; must manage finances, and learn to stretch the paycheck over the constant doctor bills; must keep an understanding interest in the active lives of their children; must, indeed, learn that the very heart of the home can be the sickroom.
Others, life-long invalids, have never married and their problems are still more acute, usually complicated by financial difficulties. Many of them must support themselves by making fancywork, taking magazine subscriptions, or something similar. Perhaps you look at them and think that because they have no family they cannot understand. Remember they, too, longed for love and home and children as much as you did. Although these blessings came to you and not to them, their longing is nonetheless keen.
Certain problems are common to all shut-ins, married or single: to battle inertia and discouragement; to keep the spirit on tiptoe, as it were; what to do with long hours when the eyes cannot be used and the radio tires; how to hold friends when one cannot return calls nor entertain; how to know the joy of labor when hands must be idle; how to overcome loneliness; how to keep a sense of proportion so that little things will not matter too much.
It isn't just being sick that is hard. It is the broken hopes, the feeling of being shut out of real life, the fear of growing odd and different, the dread of being a burden, the terrible feeling of uselessness. We do so want to be loved, yet how hard it is to be always lovable! Of course we cannot expect to be loved just because we are sick.
Perhaps most of those who are shut in for physical causes are also nervously ill. The abnormal manner of life; the lack of physical exercise and interesting occupation; the compulsory indoor life, the bitter knowledge, in many cases, that one will never be any better - all these contribute to this condition.
Most of us learn, in time, to bear pain - we have to - but shattered nerves are still harder to endure. We do not get enough exercise to enable us to sleep; and lack of sleep, in turn, frays the nerves - a vicious cycle. How well I know all the dreadful and humiliating details - the pounding heart and choking breath; inability to concentrate; the mental confusion and keen anguish; the general feeling of disintegration; the dizziness, the roaring in the head.
There is little profit in talking about it. No one who has had it wants to talk about it, and no one who has not can possibly understand it. But thanks be to God, He is the One who made nerves and He understands that they, too, wear out under stress and strain. And He gives peace and rest even to us broken ones. When I get to Heaven I think I shall enjoy my new set of nerves even more than my painless and erect body. And meanwhile God has helped me conceal this condition from those who know me.
Speaking from experience, I can say that this is an issue. I try not to be frustrated by this kind of helpfulness about cures and remedies because I have learned useful things from others at times. But sometimes I do feel a bit, well, overwhelmed with all the unsolicited help from people who don't even know what I'm dealing with. I don't say this to make people feel guilty, so please don't take it that way. :-) I have been inclined to do the same things to others at times. But, it's something to keep in mind.
Now may I gently offer a few practical suggestions in which you may be of great help to the sick and the shut-ins of your acquaintance. They are only simple little things but they matter much to the invalid. Do not be too quick with urgent suggestions that they try this or that remedy. Through the years of my invalidism, I have come to the rueful conclusion that there must be hundreds of remedies for hundreds of ailments, and sometimes I feel that I have been urged to try them all. As this is manifestly impossible, and as most of us are doing the best we can - perhaps under strict orders of the doctor - perhaps this manner of helpfulness might better be omitted entirely. [See side bar.]
There is another little thing which doesn't bother me in the least, but I have learned that it is irritating to many shut-ins - remarks about their appearance. If one is feeling wretched he finds it exasperating to be told, "You look so well. I don't believe you are really very sick." Or if one is already discouraged it doesn't help to be told, "You are looking pale today." Personally this does not affect me one way nor the other.
Food is a very prosaic subject, but after all we do hear a good deal about it these days. Sick and well have this one thing in common - they all do have to eat. Food presents a great difficulty to the shut-in, especially now that there is a shortage in so many items, and the patient may be on a diet requiring those particular things. I know of many shut-ins who live alone in a single room and must, in some manner, prepare their own simple and none-too-tempting meals, and then they are too tired to eat them. Others are dependent on the efforts of husband, or sister, or mother.
Many a time a kind neighbor has brought me a tray at mealtime and I wish they could really know what it has meant to me. It may have been just what we were going to have anyhow but it was cooked a little differently, it was served on different dishes and, best of all, it was seasoned with love and neighborliness. I shall always feel an almost passionate gratitude to the neighbor, who seeing that I had unexpected company, hastily made a delicious chocolate cake and brought it over. Or the one who, during a heat wave which prostrated me, heated her own oven to bake me some dainties to tempt my appetite. And there was the one who, calling and finding me very ill with flu, went home by way of the butcher shop and, that evening, brought down a kettle of chicken soup with the meat of the entire chicken in it. Still others have taken home fruit and canned it for me.
Shut-ins cannot entertain, and this is something they miss greatly. One of the nicest things people do for me is to come to dinner, bring the dinner, and wash the dishes afterward. This gives me the illusion of hospitality and the joy of fellowship. Try this sometime with shut-ins of your acquaintance and I'll guarantee that you'll all enjoy it. Oh how my heart has gone out in gratitude to those who have taken home some curtains to do up. Or to those who, while calling, have looked into the ironing drawer, and finding it full, have done the ironing while they visited with me.
And how shall I speak of those dear women who have literally moved in on me time after time, five of them, and have cleaned my house from top to bottom. The sight of them down on the knees scrubbing my dirty floors is one I shall remember through all eternity, and so will our Lord who put the kindly impulse into their hearts.
I cannot express the gratitude I feel toward those who have done typing for me, have even mimeographed letters to help me in my heavy correspondence.
Ask your sick friends sometimes to do little things for you and see how happy this makes them. Nothing beyond their strength, perhaps only to let them know you actually DEPEND on their prayers. They desperately need the joy of accomplishment, and they long to do something with their own time beside kill it.
Share your home life with them, talk over some of your problems with them. Do not feel that, because some of them do not have home and husband and children, they cannot understand. They may be wiser than you think. Perhaps their perspective is better than yours. Perhaps they know better than you how precious these things are.
A few more - very practical suggestions: Do call often but do not stay for several hours if the patient is very weak. Never argue with the patient, especially about heavy doctrinal subjects. Do not sit in a rocking chair and rock back and forth in front of a window. Most shut-ins have frequent headaches; therefore try to avoid nervous motions of the hands like tapping on a chair, opening and shutting the clasp of a purse, slapping the hand with car keys or gloves. Members of a shut-in's family can see that faucets do not drip nor windows rattle. These are only little things but they mean a great deal to a sick person. And do not leave a radio blaring for hours. Please be very careful not to make the shut-in feel that he is a financial burden. I know from letters I receive that he is often deeply sensitive about this. Remember that I am the confidante of many shut-ins, hence I know some of their problems. And, in passing, do not tell them to "keep smiling." It must be a monotonous way of life. When you do your Christmas shopping, why not buy some of the fancywork or other articles they have for sale?
If you bring small children - and we do care to see them more than you can know - please try to keep them within bounds. How well I remember an infant terrible, years ago, who climbed on my bed, jumped happily up and down on my stomach, then off to upset my water glas upon my Bible, break a picture frame, and investigate some bottles of pills. I noticed just in time that he was about to take a strychnine pill! After a session like that, the patient is left wringing wet with exhaustion.
My heart is torn almost beyond endurance by those shut-ins who do not know the Lord. They must have more fortitude than I, for I could not endure my life without Him. But to contemplate the fact that, having suffered a lifetime here they must go on and suffer an eternity of separation from Him - it is almost more than I can bear. So, if you know any such - and there are thousands of them - I beseech you, never stop trying to present the precious SAVIOUR to them in such a way that they cannot help but want Him.
If so be they are saved, of course you do not need to be told that there is nothing that can bring them greater joy than to talk with them about the things of the Lord, especially about the blessed hope. That blessed hope cannot mean to others what it does to those of us who are hopelessly ill. To us it means, not only the day when the Lord we love will be crowned KING of kings and Lord of lords; not only the time when, at last, we shall see the face of Him whom, not having seen, we love; but it means that our suffering at long last is over - over for all eternity.
There will be no tears in heaven and yet I think that, for a moment, before He wipes my tears away, I shall be shaken by great shuddering, uncontrollable sobs - sobs of relief that the long years of suffering are over at last; and that I have seen the KING in all His beauty; and that I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Revelation 21:4-5 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
John 10:2-4 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
I borrowed this questionaire from Facebook where it was making the rounds - probably still is. Since I was homeschooled, some of my answers are more unconventional, but I thought it would be interesting to answer it and maybe not just stick to the typical one-word answers. ;-)
This picture was not from my senior year, but it's the closest I could find on my computer at the moment. Hopefully I'll get some others scanned in someday. This one was 1985 or 1986, definitely still the big hair era. Big glasses too.
It's your SENIOR year of high school! The longer ago it was, the more fun the
answers will be.
The year was: 1988 - You know big hair, "punks", and Lionel Richie (not that I listened to him - much).
1. Did you know your spouse? No, and since he is six years younger than I am, even if I had known him there would have been ZERO interest. He was twelve at the time! ACK! :-)
2. Did you car
pool to school? No need. My desk was in my brother's room right down the hall. Of course, we went downstairs for breakfast before we started school.
3. What kind of car did you drive? Occasionally an Omni which belonged to my parents and was my dad's work car most of the time.
What kind of car do you have now? Ford F150 (Pick up truck) and a tired KIA Spectra 5
5. It's Friday night... where
are you? At home reading or doing something with my family, or teaching the girl's Hobby Club.
6. What kind of job did
you have in high school? I babysat once in awhile.
7. What kind of job do you
have now? Housewife, writer, opener of the door for one gray cat.
8. Were you a party animal? No. Unless by party you mean having snacks and lively conversation with some of the church folks after Sunday evening service and occasionally after prayer meeting on Wednesday.
9. Were you a cheerleader?
More like a bossy oldest sister.
10. Were you considered a jock? Never.
11. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? I played the piano for our church services quite often and sometimes for special music.
12. Were you a nerd? Undoubtedly, but in a homeschool no one really notices. :-) Most of us were, in our own particular way.
14. Can you sing the fight song? We had plenty of fights, but I don't recall any song connected to them. ;-) Too bad we didn't think of a "fight song"; that would have made things more interesting and probably would have appealed to our weird sense of humor too! By senior year, though, I'd begun to learn that one of the surest ways of spoiling my next-youngest-brother's fun was not to engage, so we didn't fight nearly as much as we had when we were younger. :-)
was/were your favorite high school teacher? My mom and dad. Ha! :-)
16. Where did you sit for lunch? At our dining room table. Maybe occasionally in my room. In the winter we had a bird feeder right outside the dining room window and it was always enjoyable to watch the birds eating while we ate.
17. What was your school's full name? Our Homeschool. That's actually what was written on my diploma. We were, however, connected to "Freedom Farm Academy" which was an umbrella group for homeschoolers run by some good friends of ours.
18. What was
your school mascot? At first it would have been my baby sister. She was a little sweety. Later, probably a hamster. Those were the only pets we had then and my brothers went into them in a big way! haha
19. If you could go back and do it again? No thanks. There are better things ahead. Wouldn't want to be back there. (Philippians 3:13)
20. Did you have fun at prom?
We didn't have one. No disappointment there, either.
21. Do you still talk to the person you went to prom with? There wasn't one.
you planning on going to your next reunion? That would be a family reunion for us, and since my youngest brother immigrated to another continent, that isn't likely to happen, though we would love it if it could!
23. Are you still in
contact with people from high school? Yes. My next-oldest-sibling, my brother Mike, lives on our property.
24. What are/were your school's
colors? My class colors on my class ring are white and purple, since I got to choose whatever I wanted. I think they are the same colors of my parents' graduating class from missionary boarding school in the 1960s. :-)
Well, there you have it. Pretty random and totally useless information, I guess. But, hey, maybe someone was interested. :-)
On a more serious note: Class rings were a big deal when and where I graduated from high school. My parents very generously decided to buy me one at a local jewelers. I don't remember if it was my junior or senior year, but it meant a lot to me. I know they must of scraped and pinched to be able to buy it and it was a sacrifice on their part. Considering the short amount of time I wore it (and they probably knew that would happen), I don't think it was a good investment from a monetary point of view. However, it was something that impressed me with their love at the time. In thinking about that I can't help pondering all the things that the Lord gives to us at various times - things we don't need and that He knows will not have a seriously lasting presence in our lives, but that He does just because He wants to show us His love.
I can't even remember if I had a verse picked out in relation to my graduation. Too bad. :-/
I do remember that I bought a package of paper desert plates with a Ziggy theme and actually wrote messages on them, wrote the names and addresses of various friends in other places who were graduating that year on the backs, stamped, and mailed them! I got some notes in reply, but I don't think anyone mentioned what condition theirs was in when it arrived. I've often wondered! Imgaine mailing paper plates! hehehe
Psalms 119:148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
[This meme says, "Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him." - Hudson Taylor]
The idea has been around for a long time that the "best" time of day to read one's Bible and pray is early in the morning. I've heard things along this line all of my life. It influenced me as a young person and I spent some years getting up very early to have my Bible reading and prayer time. I don't regret that time by any means, but I was not "more spiritually minded" because I did it. In fact, I was pretty un-spiritually minded for much of that time. I grew and learned a lot, but I also thought a lot of myself and my diligence to be "godly" at that time. The idea that morning is the "right" time for personal devotions was so entrenched in me that I still sometimes fight the feeling of guilt when I don't read my Bible until later in the day or in the evening.
I think that this idea came partly from verses like Psalms 63:1 - O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; This is a good verse and certainly it's good to seek God early. But, as we'll see later in this same Psalm, David also thought on the Lord in the night.
NOTE: It is suspect at best to take one or two verses and build up a system of "godly living" based upon them, especially when one doesn't take other scripture into consideration. In some situations we could say it is downright dishonest, and in this case I'd suggest it is often self-serving.
I don't know when I first came to realize that there is nothing in the Bible that says we have to read our Bibles early in the morning - that that is the "most spiritual" time to read it. I do remember really thinking about this issue some years ago when I was hearing some conflicting things that made me crystallize my thoughts about it. The truth is, it just isn't there. It has been encouraged by a lot of "great Christians" and repeated by many pastors and teachers. It has been practiced by some "great Christians" and has been thought to be the source of their power. But, the scripture doesn't clearly and specifically say that we are "more spiritual" if we read it in the morning.
I had to stop and think when a family friend said he just couldn't read his Bible in the morning. He suffered from severe "morning brain" and was so fuzzy then that he couldn't concentrate and get anything out of it. Reading at night, however, worked well for him because his mind was more focused and alert.
My own dad has done his Bible reading primarily in the evening for a long time. He has almost always been a "night-owl" type of person and is more alert in the evening and even late at night than he is in the morning.
I myself wasn't able to deal with rising early when my physical limitations became prohibitive. I still have to let myself sleep-in in the morning sometimes because I'm simply too tired to get up and function properly at an early hour, let alone try to get up and read my Bible with any attentiveness.
I'm sure there are mothers and others who hit the ground running, so the speak, in the mornings and just don't have time to sit down and read the word without distraction until later in the day.
Does this make us bad Christians? Are we less spiritual because of this? While some Christians would say "no", the exaltation of morning Bible reading and prayer is still strongly felt, as proven by the two memes I've chosen to show here. [Note: I do not know if Hudson Taylor actually wrote or said the above quote since there are so many quotes attributed to various people which they never said. However, it is in keeping with what I have read about him myself.]
In the Psalm 119:148 (above) the psalmist said that he stayed awake into the late hours of the night meditating upon God's word. Obviously he didn't think it was a bad time to read or study the scripture.
Psalms 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
David prayed in the evening, morning, and middle of the day. He didn't think that early morning prayers were more "spiritual" or that they made him a better worshiper of Jehovah. He did all three. Some people have suggested that early morning prayers are the most sacrificial and the most spiritual.
This brings up one reason why I think people believe that early morning Bible reading and prayer is more "godly".
We read in Colossians 2:20-23, Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
I am going to tell you what I understand this to mean and you may do with it as you will. I believe this passage is talking about the commandments, ordinances (rules), and doctrines of men - not God. The point I see is that all these rules about touching and handling are the ideas of men and not the commandments of God. The reason that they seem "godly" to us is because they have a show of wisdom - not real and actual wisdom from God, but human wisdom which says that if you subject your will and humble yourself and neglect the body (get up early in the morning) and don't satisfy the flesh you are more spiritual. In short, it is about outward appearances.
That is exactly what we are talking about with this subject - the idea that subjecting one's flesh to the difficulty of getting up at a very early hour to read God's word and pray makes one a better Christian because only people who "really love God" would do such a thing. Sadly, and I say this from personal experience, there are many people who will do this to prove to themselves, others, and God that they are "spiritual". They feel "godly" because they denied the flesh in a way that others are not doing. In short, it is a form or symptom of religious scrupulosity - going through outward motions that are admired by man to prove one's worthiness, spirituality, or to show denial of the flesh for the purpose of justifying oneself before God. 1 Samuel 16:7 ...the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
Psalms 63:5-6 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
David remembered God when he was on his bed and he meditated upon God in the night. I am sure there are people who would say that if you are "really spiritual" you shouldn't be lying in bed thinking about God, you should be up, and preferably on your knees. In fact, I've heard someone say that it's wrong to pray while lying in bed. Granted, if you go to sleep this might be a problem if you really wanted to pray about something. On the other hand, I'd rather go to sleep talking to the Lord than worrying about the things I need to do or the government or whatever. Just sayin'...
Let's not miss verse 5, though. David compares thinking of God on his bed in the night to a rich feast and he says he praised the Lord with his mouth and was joyful while doing so. Friend, that was not a little token thought before he drifted off to sleep. This sounds like a warm, deep experience that filled him with the joy of the Lord. Obviously he didn't think that it was "unspiritual" to do this at night!
Ecclesiastes 11:6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
This verse makes me think of Jesus' parable of the sower and how the seed is the word. Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
We don't know when we plant physical seeds which will grow - those sown in the morning or those sown in the evening. So it is with our exposure to scripture. Sometimes we take away something that really sinks in and bears fruit and other times we miss the obvious. Sow regularly and sow at different times. See which works best for you. If it's morning, fine. But, if the word of God sown in your heart prospers more when it is sown at night, then do that! Neither time is better than the other, it's the fruit that counts.
[This meme says, "The secret to a happy life is giving God the first part of your day, the first priority to every decision and the first place in your heart."]
Both of the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel experienced receiving prophecy in both the morning and the evening. The Lord Himself didn't prefer one time over the other. He gave revelations of Himself at both times. He can reveal Himself to us through His word at either time as well.
Ezekiel 33:22 Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, afore he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb. Daniel 8:26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
Isaiah sought the Lord in the night and "early".
Isaiah 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night the Lord didn't rebuke him for not coming early in the morning. He didn't shame him for not seeking Him at a "better" or "more spiritual" time. He met with him when he came and He expounded some wonderful truth to him.
John 3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
It really isn't so much about when we meet with Him as what we seek to receive when we do. God isn't looking for people who are "so spiritual" that they will get up early in the morning to prove their zeal. He is looking for something quite different from that.
John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
In Proverbs 1 wisdom says that those who refused her will not find her when they seek her early. Proverbs 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: But, in Proverbs 8 we see that she loves those that love her and those that seek her early will find her. Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. From what I can see, the meaning of the word early here is not exclusively in the sense of early in the morning. It also entails the idea of earnestness and in a timely manner. But, most importantly, we see from these two passages that it is not about the time as much as it is about the attitude and the desire of the heart - a willingness to attain wisdom. As we've seen from other passages, the time frame is not that significant with the Lord as far as the hour of the day is concerned. The point is to seek the Lord, now. Don't put it off, don't neglect it, don't wait for the "right time of day."
Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
A free scripture graphic for you to save and use as you wish. Right click to save it. You might get a higher resolution here (click on the download icon in the lower right corner), but this one is not very large to begin with, so it may not be much better. The original graphic was from the Old Design Shop.
This is a favorite recipe of my family. We have made them for years. I don't remember now where the recipe originated.
Peanut Butter Pizza
1/2 C. butter 1/2 C. peanut butter 1/2 C. packed brown sugar 1/4 C. sugar 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp. vanilla 3/4 C. all purpose flour 3/4 C. whole wheat 2 C. miniature marshmallows 1 1/2 C. chocolate chips Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and mix well. Pat into a 15x10x1 inch backing sheet. Bake at 375F for 12 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Allow to rest a couple minutes then spread the chocolate around with a knife. Sprinkle with marshmallows. Return to the oven for 4-6 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then cut into bars.
These bars also freeze well. It’s probably best to refrigerate first, then layer the bars in a sealable container with wax paper between the layers to prevent sticking. I like to box them up in portions that I know will be useful at some future time: 4, 6 or 8 pieces to a box. This is handy for pulling out when we’re having a family time, or a few guests. Also, it keeps us from eating up the whole pan in just a few days – think “too many sugar calories”. :-) Plus, it makes my work go farther and saves time and energy at a later date.
Owen, in his last hours, dictated a short letter to a friend. His secretary had written, “I am yet in the land of the living,” when Owen said, “Stop, change that. Write, I am yet in the land of the dying, but I hope soon to be in the land of the living.” - Source unkown
Romans 8:18-23 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Truly we live in a dying world that is in bondage to corruption. Death and dying are as common as the vegetables and meat on our plates at dinner time.
Not long ago I was looking at a web site that showed a picture of a mountain in West Africa where a jeep two missionary doctors were traveling in rolled off the road and they were both killed. The writer (who later became my father-in-law) commented, "One would not think death could be so beautiful from a distance." And it was a beautiful mountain in a rugged sort of way.
And yet, think of this splendid, comforting thought: In spite of the dying state of the world we live in, how wonderfully beautiful it is! What beauty surrounds us - mountains, seas, skies, forests, plains, and even the austere beauty of the deserts. The ornamental plumage of birds, the fine architecture of seashells, the delicate coloring and structure of flowers all declare the tender care of a wise Creator. How gorgeously the Lord has arrayed this dying world, that He intended to be a living one! Think then what heaven must be like - the true land of the living!
Think what the Kingdom will be like! We are told the desert shall blossom as the rose,
Isaiah 35:1-2 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
Think of the new heavens and new earth. It defies the abilities of our feeble minds!
Revelation 21:1-3 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
As the children of the living God we are a living people with a living future! We will see what this glorious creation will be like when it is no longer under the bondage of corruption!
John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Job 19:25-27 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
As my long time readers know, I have a burden for those who are lonely, sad, and suffering during "the holiday season". I have also been thinking lately about some of our friends whom we have not had contact with for a long while. This month's challenge will touch on both of those things.
Visit or do something for a "shut in".
Phone someone you haven't talked to for a long time.
In 2014 I did a Christmas Challenge post on Seeing with Compassion. One way to do that is to reach out to "shut ins" - those who cannot get out during the holiday season. Whether we celebrate or not, this is something that we can do that is in keeping with the example of Jesus Christ. He repeatedly reached out to the suffering and lonely (think of the Samaritan woman at the well and Zacchaeus the tax collector). Nursing homes may be an obvious place to look, but don't overlook all those people who are stuck at home for various reasons during the winter (or at any time).
As for the phone calls, think about someone whose friendship you enjoyed who has just drifted out of you life for some reason. Sometimes it was lack of effort on one or both sides, sometimes it was just the cares of life. If you have a phone number, give them a ring and have a chat. If it doesn't go anywhere, at least you tried. If it brings you back into contact, then you have gotten back a friend.
Proverbs 27:10 Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not...