Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"My Children, Lord, and I"

“And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason…the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”  (Exo. 12:22-23)

            God’s means of protection for His people has always been blood, from the lambs of the Old Testament to the Lamb of God in the New. It hides sin and provides a safeguard against His wrath. In the contest between Himself and Pharaoh, His final blow was to be a death in every house in Egypt (v. 30). Either a lamb or a firstborn. His promise to the children of Israel was that if they would apply the blood of an innocent lamb to the lintel over the door and on the two side posts, the death angel would pass over their homes and their families would be saved.

            This has always been God’s plan (Gen. 7:1; Acts 16:31). Paul told Timothy it was God’s will for “all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4); but they won’t all be saved. I cannot reconcile this with the fact that I know His will cannot be broken, but I believe both are true. And I know that not all children of believing parents come to the Faith. But I do know all believing parents want them to.

            I found the following little poem in H.A. Ironside’s devotional collection, The Continual Burnt Offering. It speaks words of my own heart and the heart of every Christian mother I know. No title or author is supplied.

“O thou who gave them, guard them—those wayward little feet,
The wilderness before them, the ills of life to meet.
My mother-love is helpless, I trust them to Thy care!
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, oh, keep me ever there!

The faith I rest upon Thee Thou wilt not disappoint,
With wisdom, Lord, to train them my shrinking heart anoint,
Without my children, Father, I cannot see Thy face;
I plead the blood-stained lintel, Thy covenant of grace.

Oh, wonderful Redeemer, who suffered for our sake,
When o’er the guilty nations the judgment storm shall break,
With joy from that safe shelter may we then meet Thine eye,
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, my children, Lord, and I.                                                                             

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hearts on Display

“Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.”  (Psl.62:8)

            James Dobson wrote a book that asks the question, Emotions, Can You Trust Them?” The answer, of course, is no. They’re too unpredictable to be relied upon. So, to me, the obvious next question is, “What can you constructively do with them, then?” This is not unimportant, because we’re talking about the most volatile part of our psyche. To deny them is not only wrong but ludicrous. We all have them. When we say someone is very emotional, what we’re really saying that he or she is more prone to display his or her emotions, not that those who do not, have less.  

            David’s answer to our question of where our emotions are best utilized is in this verse: “…pour out your heart before him…” Does this mean we’re never to share deep feelings with others? I don’t think so, because he also says in Psalm 39:3, “My heart was hot within me…then spake I with my tongue.” There are unexpected times when cups of joy or sorrow can do little else but overflow before others, but this should not be their natural experience. And I’ll admit, I, for one, am far more moved and inspired by preachers and other ministering saints who are better able to show me God’s heart than their own.

            God insists that I love Him with all my heart and soul, and He has brought me to the place after many years where I find it easier to do, as He has grown even lovelier to me. He has first claim on my emotions, and I gladly relinquish it. Beyond that, my husband stands at the front of the line, and everyone else must fall in behind. The rest of my family gets their rightful share; and, no doubt, you who read these written ramblings of mine get a peek into my soul from time to time, as well.

No, emotions cannot be trusted, but they can be offered up to God for His pleasure…and choice of display.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"I Love All My People!"

“And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.” (Gen. 49:33)

            I’ve always thought this was an enviable deathbed scene. Simply lifting your feet off this earth one last time, closing your eyes, and opening them in the presence of those loved ones gone before. But it’s the last two words I want to dwell on for a little while…“his people.”

            God uses the term, “my people” many times in His Word in an expression of kinship, fellowship…and in His case, ownership. There are men, women, boys and girls God claims for himself, and their connection to one another is based on their connection to Him. They share the same Father (Jno. 20:17). Earthly ties are severed at death, but the bond between brothers and sisters in Christ will last through all eternity. So those family members of mine who belong to God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, are bound to me by two cords of love, temporal and eternal.  

            The question is, if my people are God’s people, do I love all my people? One of the last times I was with my Kentucky Aunt Cinda, now with the Lord, she sat listening intently as some of us were telling about what was happening in the lives of our children and grandchildren, when suddenly she clasped her hands together and said, “I love all my people!” Some of them she might never see, and some might be proving a disappointment to others, but to her, they were “family,” so she loved them.

Do you and I feel that way about all God’s people? Does just the fact that we’re “related” mean that my first inclination will always be to love them, in whatever situation I find them? Reservation may be called for at some point, and the fellowship may be limited, but the assurance that we share the same Father will be reason enough to have and show love.

As Blood-bought believers in the family of God, you and I have the promise that one day, we, like Jacob, will be “gathered unto [our] people.” And in my case, there is beginning to be more of “my people” there instead of here! But I don’t want my sentiment to be that of the little verse: “To dwell above with saints we love, that will be grace and glory/ To live below with saints we know; now that’s a different story.”

I want to be able to truthfully say...
                                                                                    “I love all my people!”
                                                                                                Salle (8/24/12)  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Five Out of Ten

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” (Matt. 25:1-2)

            Does this parable spoken by our Lord indicate the basic ratio of wise to foolish women? I hope not. But from what I’ve observed through the years, it’s a distinct possibility. In any case, without looking for any Second Coming clues in this little story, as preachers love to do, I want to make a few (I hope) helpful observations. There are several other “foolish woman” texts in the Bible, and I’ll have a few choice words to say about them too, I’m sure. J

            First, all ten were virgins. We’re not talking about a “good girl/bad girl” distinction here. And they all had good intentions: they all wanted to see the bridegroom. A lot of young girls assume that if they’re basically going in the right direction, they can live on the edge spiritually and one day they’ll suddenly turn into great women of God. All ten girls were on the same road, carrying the same lamps. But there was one big difference.

            Only half of them had prepared for any contingency. The five who brought lamps but no oil assumed that it was only going to be a daytime journey, filled with sunshine. No need to prepare for any dark times. Much like those who see no need to build any discipline and devotion in their lives. “I can do that when I’m older. I just want to laugh and have a good time with my Christian friends now.”

            And speaking of friends, did you notice that the other five may have tried to be an encouragement to their foolish friends, but when it got dark, they only had enough oil for themselves. And when we hit those times when only God can supply what we need, it’s too late to take a crash course in godliness, and you can’t live on other people’s Christianity. A lamp with no oil is only good for the daylight, and a Christian life without an abiding, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ is only good for the good times.

            When I was a teen-ager, we used to sing “Give me oil in my lamp; keep me burning; give me oil in my lamp, I pray.” And that’s what you and I need: lamps filled with oil…for the good times and the bad.