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Sunday, March 9, 2014
The ABC’s of knowing God better: the letter E
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal One. – Genesis 21:33 (NIV)
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. – Ecclesiastes 3:11b (NIV)
There’s a scene in Macbeth in which Shakespeare, who wrote the play to get on the good side of King James I, uses an apparition of a line of eight kings, the last one holding a mirror, to imply that the family of James I would hold the throne forever.
Forever. Eternity. That’s a long time. In fact, it isn’t time. Because time is measured – in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia. Eternity cannot be measured. There is no time as we know it in eternity.
The apostle Peter tried to explain it when he wrote, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).
We’ve come to the letter “E” in our series of knowing God better using the letters of the alphabet.
God is ETERNAL. His being spans past, present and future. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” he says in Revelation, “the One who is, who was, and who is to come” (1:8).
God had no beginning. He always has been.
God IS, present tense. Contrary to the belief of nineteenth century German philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche, which has echoed down through the centuries, God is not dead.
God will always be. A mirror facing a mirror into infinity.
What does this have to do with us?
For the answer, I turn to God’s Word:
“He has placed eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
“The LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
God Himself breathed life into us.
We are not just physical bodies walking around on the planet. We are also mental beings because we have a brain. We are emotional beings because we have a heart that feels joy and pain and everything in between. We are spiritual beings because we have a soul that God breathed into us, a spirit that is restless and empty until we anchor ourselves in the One who made us and Who calls to us to know Him, fill our empty selves with Himself, with His life, and spend eternity with Him.
“Lord, Thy madest us for Thyself,” wrote St. Augustine, “and we can find no rest till we find rest in Thee.”
“Since we were made for eternity,” one commentator notes, “the things of time cannot fully and permanently satisfy.”*
Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman whom He met at the well reverberate through time to us today: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up into eternal life” (John 4:14).
“He has placed eternity in the hearts of men.” God has placed in each of us a longing that cannot be satisfied with anything but Him.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” God tells us (Jeremiah 29:13).
God is eternal, and He wants to share eternity with you.
Have you found Him? Are you seeking?
He isn’t far – only a breath away.
Thank you, Father, that You loved me so much that You made the way for me to spend eternity with you. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read 1 John 5:11–12
*From study notes in the NIV Study Bible, (c) 2002 The Zondervan Corporation.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. – Psalm 121:8 (NIV)
Last Saturday I thought my iPhone died. The screen went black and the contraption was unresponsive.
I did what any new smart phone owner would do – I panicked.
It took me years to upgrade from my dumb phone. I resisted, insisting I didn’t need one. I was comfortable with it, even though I recognized its growing inconveniences.
But that changed after a Christmas trip to our daughter’s in South Carolina, and I saw how helpful a smart phone could be as we travel.
So, within a week of returning home, I ordered an iPhone, which has all but become an appendage. Funny how you resist change even when it will improve your life.
I downloaded all these free apps – Lose It! to help me eat right, Runtastic to motivate me to exercise regularly, At Bat, an MLB app to keep up with my Pirates, Facebook to keep up with my friends, Kindle to keep up with my reading, Bible Gateway for its daily reading program, a weather app, and only one game app – Words with Friends (and 10 ongoing games).
So when my phone appeared dead, I felt, well, unplugged.
“Help!” I posted on Facebook.
Suggestions poured in from recharging the battery to rebooting it (also called a “hard reset”).
After an hour of recharging, the phone was still unresponsive, so I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, then held down the power and home buttons for 15–20 seconds for the hard reset. And prayed.
It worked! I was a happy camper again.
As a friend explained on Facebook, the smart phone is really a hand-held computer, and computers, in order to run properly, regularly need to be rebooted – shut off completely, unplugged. Why? With all the things they have to do, most often simultaneously, electronics “get into an odd state,” one expert explains, and shutting it off forces it to “reset and restart from a good known state.”
Shutting down and starting over.
Isn’t that the cycle of life, too?
We fear change, and resist it, so sometimes we need to be forced to reboot.
Reboots go as far back as Adam and Eve. Think of other Bible “reboots” – those who were forced to change: Job, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter and the rest of the apostles, Saul, to name a few.
And although the reset was hard, they were not alone as they faced new circumstances, new people, new purposes. God had a hand in it. He had a plan. And He was with them all the way.
What about you?
Are you going through a reboot? A hard reset?
Don’t fear change. Don’t fear starting back up.
He who made you watches over you and will guide you and give you the strength, wisdom, and fortitude to forget what's behind you and reach for what’s ahead (Philippians 3:13–14).
Dear God, I resist change, even when You sanction it. Help me to overcome my fear with the faith that You oversee every aspect of this reboot for my good. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 121
Sunday, February 23, 2014
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The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. – Psalm 18:2 (NIV)
For He will deliver the needy when they cry out. – Psalm 72:12 (NIV)
I should have known better than to even try.
But when my daughter-in-law, Rachael, called Wednesday and kindly chastised me for neglecting our Tuesday-Thursday exercise dates for the past month, I told her I’d see her the next day.
I figured by 1:00, the warmer temperatures and the rain would melt the mess in the driveway and the lane. So after a light lunch of yogurt and granola, I laced up my hiking boots, zipped up my Carhartt hoodie, stuffed my exercise sneakers in a plastic bag, and grabbed an umbrella.
I could have waited until it stopped pouring. I could have said “Nuts with it” when I saw the ice in the driveway. I could have driven my truck the two-tenths of a mile to Rachael’s.
But I wanted to walk. The recent parade of snowstorms, frigid temperatures, and wind had intimidated this senior citizen to stay indoors. I missed being outside. When I bundled up and stepped out into the winter sunshine for a one-mile walk, I felt better for days.
There was no sunshine Thursday. Only overcast skies and, when I headed for Rachael’s, a downpour. But I was determined to walk the short distance. I mean, how bad could it be?
Sometimes being stubborn isn’t good.
I surveyed the rain-covered skating rink that was my driveway. Too risky. I headed for the yard, where the snow would give me traction. Not a good idea, considering the snow came to my knees. I tried stepping in the deer tracks, but still I landed on my tushie. If any of my neighbors had been watching, I’m sure they could have gotten a good submission to America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Somehow I managed to get back on my feet and to the road, where I followed the bare spots. I made it to within a hundred feet of my destination, then stopped. The rest of the way was a sheet of ice. I imagined myself sprawled on the glistening lane in the downpour, unable to get back up. Retreat was a risky option, as the road behind me was getting more slippery by the second, thanks to the rain.
Swallowing my pride, I pulled out my cell phone called Rachael, who backed up her SUV to where I stood and delivered me from my predicament.
Sometimes in life we get ourselves into jams and need someone to deliver us, but we’re too proud to ask. So we slog on, getting ourselves in deeper and deeper.
There is no place in the Bible where it says, “God helps those who help themselves.” On the contrary, God wants us to realize our need for Him (see Matthew 5:3). He’s there for us all the time, any time we need Him, whether the need is great or small (see Psalm 55:17). He is our Deliverer.
If He sent His Son to deliver us from sin’s eternal penalty, won’t He surely deliver us from the sometimes silly predicaments into which we get ourselves?
Oh, He won’t miraculously pluck us up from an icy roadway, but He can send someone to help, show us the way out, or give us the wisdom, courage and strength we need follow His directions.
All we have to do is swallow our pride and ask.
Deliver me from myself, O Lord! Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 107