Saturday, March 18, 2017

Strength For the Battle

“For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle…” (Psalm 18:39a)

        In case you hadn’t noticed, life is a battle. And in our case, as children of God, the opposing forces are supernatural (Eph. 6:12). They may not look like the creatures in The Lord of the Rings, but they are every bit as menacing. When you and I strive to do right, there will always be someone or something, whether seen or unseen, trying to influence us in the opposite direction. Be it (unreasonable) reasoning, cajoling, or intimidation—every possible means will be brought to bear. Some of the battles will be ongoing; others will be decisive. Some will represent minor skirmishes, while others may escalate into bloody assaults. But the overall description of our Spiritual lives, whether it is victory or defeat, will depend upon the success of our battling.

        For this reason, God, in His infinite wisdom and love, has made provision for perpetual victory. We may not always experience it, but it is always at our disposal. One need not be strong-willed or even strong-minded, only strong in faith. You know, like the grain of the little mustard seed (Matt. 17:20). In fact, according to 2 Corinthians 12:9, the least endowed among us may be the most qualified to display the personification of strength. “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Does this mean those of us designated as the “weaker vessel” (1Pet. 3:7) have an edge on spiritual strength? Just a thought.

         As I say, these Spiritual battles are life-long and hard-fought, and we should not be surprised that the bloodiest battle of all may be the last one. It was certainly true for our Lord. There comes a time when even a mighty warrior may hang up his armor in hopes of resting from battle, content to remember the glory. Has not the armor become rusty with use, as well as the warrior? No, we need have no fear in either case. Our text tells us that as long as the battle rages (all the way to the end), there will be strength, and so we can be assured, the needed armor (Philip. 4:19).

        This eighteenth Psalm makes it abundantly plain that the source of all this wonderful strength is the Lord God Almighty (vv.1-2, etc.); and we are exhorted to solicit His aid in every battle we face. All we have to do it tell Him we will provide the body, if He will provide the armor; we will engage the enemy, if He will strike the final blow. You and I have the option of going through this life victorious, from battle to battle, in His strength. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them… They go from strength to strength…” Psl. 84:5 &7

        With these “rules of engagement,” we can say with confidence, “[T]he Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Ha! 

John Henry Jowett (The Whole Armour of God) says of Romans 8:37  “…Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors…” “To be more than conqueror is to be on the top of the old serpent, and, as (Robert) Browning says, to stand upon him and to feel him wriggle beneath your feet.”’


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Heart To Hand Lifeline

“And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. – 2 Cor. 8:5

There is a term used when a hospital operating room reaches a point where there are more emergency cases than the staff is prepared to handle. It’s called CODE BLACK. This Fall I watched a TV series by that name. This situation only happens two to three times a year in an ordinary OR, but there is one in Los Angeles, where it occurs regularly 360 nights a year. I found the series both informative as well as entertaining.

For instance, the last episode dealt with an infestation of airborne bacteria that killed, horribly, within several hours. Obviously, the whole facility had to be put under quarantine. Finally, one person was found who had a natural immunity from which they were able to make an antidote that could be administered as a blood transfusion. Because there was no way of preserving it, however, it had to be a one-to -one procedure until they were able to reproduce the immunity in others. The first direct transfusion was done between an artery of the donor and a vein of the recipient. In the episode I saw, the two held hands across two beds as the transfusion took place. As I watched it, tears began to well up in my eyes, and I said softly to myself (and God), “That’s what I have experienced over this past year.”

There were times when I lay powerless with pain, nausea or fear and would suddenly feel a wave of peace and contentment flow over my soul and through my body as if someone’s life’s-blood had begun to slowly move from him or her to me. Not only that, financial aid to help defray medical expenses that would have otherwise smothered us has come in. There have been gifts, some handmade. Some that made me cry, as well as one I just received that made me laugh out loud, literally. And, oh, the words of comfort, assurances of prayer through the mail, emails, phone texts, posting on Facebook, etc.! To know that my name is being brought before the throne of grace at all hours is a veritable lifeline to the grace of God for me.

But, aside from other obvious reasons why this type of transfusion is only used in unusual circumstances, one other is that the amount of blood going from the donor to the recipient cannot be measured, therefore both must be constantly monitored. I know in my own case, what I have received, and am still receiving, from my brothers and sisters in the Lord during this time, is immeasurable. What it has, and is, costing them only God knows, but to me it goes far beyond money, prayers, gifts, cards, and time. It’s life…just as surely as a blood transfusion means life. You and I are side by side, and a lifeline has been opened between your heart and hand to my heart and hand. And only God can say when it’s enough.

As long as He wills it so, I remain your recipient and debtor. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Best Advice

“Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?” - Job 15:3

Talk, no matter how well intentioned, can reach a stage of uselessness—as far as we are concerned, that is. But most of us, for one reason or another, cannot (or will not) acknowledge this. Because of the real or perceived legitimacy of the argument, and/or because of our own personal attachment, we talk on.

This verse in Job points out what should be obvious to us, were we not so invested in the person to whom we are speaking and the benevolence of our motives: There is only so much to be said to some people; and it is possible to move beyond compassionate love and courage of conviction, to possessiveness and a play for vindication. After awhile, we find ourselves saying the same things, just louder and more caustically. As women, it is easy to fall into this trap with husbands and older children. We may question their judgments or choices, but until they are willing to question themselves, our constant nagging is nothing more than “unprofitable talk” that does neither them nor us any good.

As you get older, you realize you must choose your battles carefully. We only have so much energy and breath to expend, and none of us want to end up in the ignominious position of someone who is just beating the air (1 Cor. 9:26). Worthy battles are always worth fighting, even to the last breath; but sometimes, we need to change the field of battle. There comes a time when we must put on our armor and face the real enemy in the real battle, on the plains of prayer (Eph. 6:11-18).

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. ------ Hannah Whitall Smith

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Who Is That Woman In the Mirror?

“Now we see through a glass darkly…” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Most of you know that this past year a deadly pancreatic cancer in my body has been slowly entwining itself around most of the surrounding veins, making its removal all but impossible. You may also know that this fall, it reached the point where aggressive chemo was begun, and finally Hospice was called in when the unsuccessful chemo left what was left of me hanging over the precipice of death. During this time of not quite, but almost, being able to see across the valley of the shadow of death into the presence of my Savior, it was as though a hand reached out, pulled me back, and stood me up on my feet, literally.

I’m not sure if that Hand was divine, but I do know it was disconcerting. Okay, if the TOD suddenly gets pushed back, for whatever reason, what’s left? According to Paul, only one: “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” Rom. 14:8.  If you’re not dead, you’re living; and if you’re living, you’re not dead. The last four words are what make the difference: “We are the Lord’s, so we should do both “unto the Lord.”

So, this is where I am on this day of our Lord, February 9, 2017. As far as I know, this tumor is still there clutching those same veins; and I still pass a mirror and momentarily ask myself, “Who is that somewhat bald, shriveled woman I see? She looks positively dead.” But she isn’t (at least, not today.) She’s merely “seeing through a glass darkly.” But sooner (or later) Bless the Lord! “…then face to face.” Until I see Him, I will serve Him, living each day in the light of His Personage…Power.

“Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” Psl. 119:49

Monday, December 5, 2016


“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy. (Psalm 107:2)

         The word, redeem, means to buy back or recover something. It assumes three things: 1) the object to be redeemed is in someone else’s possession; 2) some type of price or exchange is necessary to accomplish the redemption; and 3) the object has no means of redeeming itself, else it would not have been in bondage, in the first place.

         In this case, you and I were the objects in need of redemption, in bondage to our enemy, Satan, with no redeeming qualities of our own to call upon. And the price that was paid for the redemption of our souls and bodies (Eph. 1:7) far exceeded their worth. But then, love doesn’t look for a bargain.

         The great Baptist preacher, A.J. Gordon (1836-1895), once told the story of meeting a little boy carrying an old birdcage, containing several common field birds. Curious, Gordon asked the boy what he intended to do with the birds. “Oh, I guess I’ll just take ‘em home an play with ‘em for awhile,” came the reply. “Then what?” asked the preacher. “I guess I’ll just feed ‘em to the old cat we’ve got,” answered the boy. Impulsively, Gordon asked him how much he would take for the birds and the cage. This surprised the boy. “Mister, you don’t want these old birds. They can’t hardly sing at all.” But when Gordon offered him the outrageous sum of two dollars, he quickly took the money, saying, “It’s a deal, but you’re makin’ a bad bargain!” Gordon said that after the boy had gone, he opened the cage, letting the frightened, hesitant birds fly out; then he watched as they soared into the sky.

         The next Sunday, the preacher took the cage into the pulpit with him and told the story of the boy and the birds. He ended by saying, “That little boy said the birds couldn’t sing very well, but when I opened the cage and released them, they flew away singing. And it seemed to me the song they were singing was, ‘Redeemed! Redeemed! Redeemed?’”

         Today, I am as free as a bird out a cage, because of the blood-price of my redemption that was paid by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. The verse in Psalms says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”; and that’s just what I’m doing!

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,
Redeemed through His infinite mercy;
His child and forever I am.
                                             - Fanny J. Crosby 1820-1915