Run Towards The Finish Line, Conclusion

Hebrews 12: (MSG)
1  Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.
2  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 KJV
7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

No matter your status in life, life will deliver cuts and bruises, sores and wounds, and also many scars.  Some of these is during our time of growing into maturity, others come our way without any cause on our part.  Then there are those which come from family and friends.  Yet the worse are those we inflict ourselves on us.

I can honestly say that I have suffered all of the above.  Life just seems to happen and nothing on this planet called earth can prevent it.  None are exempt from the battles of life. 

I feel the greatest trial that I have gone through is that of the loss of family, friends, and ministry colleagues.  Somehow even with the knowledge of scripture that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, loss through death is still somewhat devastating.

The Apostle Paul gave us a glimpse about those that have crossed the finish line of life.  He states that they are a great cloud of witnesses.  They are standing waiting and cheering us on to run towards the finish line.  We must be like the apostle and keep fighting the good fight of faith because when we cross the finish line we know there is a crown waiting for us.  We must not lose sight of the finish line that is ahead of us, not looking back nor stopping to tend to our wounds and battle scars.

In my home church we use to sing a song;

This world is not my home,

I’m just a passing through.

My treasures are laid up,

Somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me to Heaven’s open door.

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

The battle while going through it seems to us so large with no sight of it ending.  Yet, as I look back on some of the battles I have been through seem trivial to me now.  Yes, I have won some battles but the war of life is still being fought.

Let me remind you of the words that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:

Philippians 3: (MSG)
12  I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.
13  Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.
14  I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
15  So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet!
16  Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
17  Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal.

None of us know what the road ahead has in store for us, for if we did then we wouldn’t have to keep the faith that God is for us.  We must cheer each other on in the race of life.  When we see one stumble we must stop and reach out and help them back up and point them towards their finishing line.

So if you are facing a battle that seem insurmountable, take courage in knowing that God will give you strength and bring you out with victory.  When you feel the burden is too heavy give it to God, let Him carry it for you, then get back on the race track and keep running towards the finish line.


Run Towards the Finish Line, Part One

Hebrews 12: (MSG)
1  Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.
2  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 KJV
7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

I am the first to admit that I have wanted to throw in the towel, quit the race, and give in to despair and depression.  I have often joked that I am too stupid to lay down and die.  Life has at times been beyond frustration and any sense of normalcy.  At least compared to those around me. 

What I fail to remind myself is I am only seeing an outward presentation from those I thought had a great life.  Had the perfect family without a care in the world.  What I couldn’t see is what was going on in those four walls after they closed their door.

The couple whose marriage is strained and on the praecipe of total collapse.  The child of that couple who is suffering with eating disorders because they feel they don’t have that perfect body that glamour magazines tell us this how a young girl should look.  Or that young man who feels the friction between his parents and is hiding from them his addiction to illicit drugs and alcohol.

It seems in life you can do all the right things, always attend the local church, go to work every day without failure, send the children to the best schools, yet life has a way to throw up hurdles and road blocks in the way.

Turn the scriptures to Genesis and read about a young man named Joseph.  He honoured his father, did his chores and had faith in the God of Abraham.  Joseph though was kind of a excitable man.  Joseph one night had a dream in which he saw sheaves of wheat.  There were sheaves surrounding one and they were bowing down to it.  This dream was God’s way of telling Joseph what was in store for him.  You see the sheaves that were bowing down were his brothers and they were bowing down before Joseph.  Joseph in his excitement told this dream to his brothers.  They laughed at him, scoffed him, and began hating him more as time passed by.

The brothers were already jealous of Joseph because he was his fathers favourite.  The brothers schemed and decided that they could not bare with Joseph any longer.  They bound him and sold him into slavery to Egyptians.  They stripped the coat off of him and covered it with blood and led their father to believe that Joseph was dead.

Joseph must have felt like his whole world had just collapsed in on him.  He is now captive and a slave in Egypt.  Joseph though did not lose hope in the dream that God had shown him.  He was faithful even when in captivity and in prison.  Other prisoners would tell their dreams to Joseph and God would give Joseph the meaning of the dreams.

One night Pharaoh had a dream of seven fat cows and seven lean cows.  Pharaoh called for his magicians, and fortune tellers looking for the meaning of his dream.  No answer could be found.  Word was given to Pharaoh about Joseph and how his God gave the meaning of dreams.  He sent for Joseph and asked Joseph for the meaning of the dream.  He did not tell the young man his dream.  Joseph asked for some time to seek God for the dream and the meaning of it.

God proved faithful and gave to Joseph the dream and its meaning.  The fat cows represented seven years of plenty and the lean cows represented seven years of famine.  Then on top of that God gave Joseph the wisdom to tell Pharaoh what to do.  During the plentiful years, save up wheat so there would be food for all during those seven years of famine.  Pharaoh rewarded Joseph by appointing him a prince in the land of Egypt. 

No matter the hurdle of the roadblock you are facing in your life at this present moment take courage.  If you will keep looking forward, keep running towards that finish line, do not look back, God will be your reward when you cross that final finish line.

I have much more to write about on this subject.  There are many instances throughout the Bible of how Gods people ran towards the finish line even though in the eyes of everyone around them would be enough to quit, turn back and lose out on the reward God has waiting for them. 


 

Run Towards the Finish Line, Part One

Hebrews 12: (MSG)
1  Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.
2  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 KJV
7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

I am the first to admit that I have wanted to throw in the towel, quit the race, and give in to despair and depression.  I have often joked that I am too stupid to lay down and die.  Life has at times been beyond frustration and any sense of normalcy.  At least compared to those around me. 

What I fail to remind myself is I am only seeing an outward presentation from those I thought had a great life.  Had the perfect family without a care in the world.  What I couldn’t see is what was going on in those four walls after they closed their door.

The couple whose marriage is strained and on the praecipe of total collapse.  The child of that couple who is suffering with eating disorders because they feel they don’t have that perfect body that glamour magazines tell us this how a young girl should look.  Or that young man who feels the friction between his parents and is hiding from them his addiction to illicit drugs and alcohol.

It seems in life you can do all the right things, always attend the local church, go to work every day without failure, send the children to the best schools, yet life has a way to throw up hurdles and road blocks in the way.

Turn the scriptures to Genesis and read about a young man named Joseph.  He honoured his father, did his chores and had faith in the God of Abraham.  Joseph though was kind of a excitable man.  Joseph one night had a dream in which he saw sheaves of wheat.  There were sheaves surrounding one and they were bowing down to it.  This dream was God’s way of telling Joseph what was in store for him.  You see the sheaves that were bowing down were his brothers and they were bowing down before Joseph.  Joseph in his excitement told this dream to his brothers.  They laughed at him, scoffed him, and began hating him more as time passed by.

The brothers were already jealous of Joseph because he was his fathers favourite.  The brothers schemed and decided that they could not bare with Joseph any longer.  They bound him and sold him into slavery to Egyptians.  They stripped the coat off of him and covered it with blood and led their father to believe that Joseph was dead.

Joseph must have felt like his whole world had just collapsed in on him.  He is now captive and a slave in Egypt.  Joseph though did not lose hope in the dream that God had shown him.  He was faithful even when in captivity and in prison.  Other prisoners would tell their dreams to Joseph and God would give Joseph the meaning of the dreams.

One night Pharaoh had a dream of seven fat cows and seven lean cows.  Pharaoh called for his magicians, and fortune tellers looking for the meaning of his dream.  No answer could be found.  Word was given to Pharaoh about Joseph and how his God gave the meaning of dreams.  He sent for Joseph and asked Joseph for the meaning of the dream.  He did not tell the young man his dream.  Joseph asked for some time to seek God for the dream and the meaning of it.

God proved faithful and gave to Joseph the dream and its meaning.  The fat cows represented seven years of plenty and the lean cows represented seven years of famine.  Then on top of that God gave Joseph the wisdom to tell Pharaoh what to do.  During the plentiful years, save up wheat so there would be food for all during those seven years of famine.  Pharaoh rewarded Joseph by appointing him a prince in the land of Egypt. 

No matter the hurdle of the roadblock you are facing in your life at this present moment take courage.  If you will keep looking forward, keep running towards that finish line, do not look back, God will be your reward when you cross that final finish line.

I have much more to write about on this subject.  There are many instances throughout the Bible of how Gods people ran towards the finish line even though in the eyes of everyone around them would be enough to quit, turn back and lose out on the reward God has waiting for them. 


 

What Can I Give Him? by Christina Rossetti

….I found this in a booklet full of Christmas sayings and traditions.

 

What can I give him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a sheperd

I would bring a lamb;

I would do my part;

Yet what I can give him,

Give my heart.

Christina Rossetti

“Thoughts of Christmas”

Compiled by

Eleanora Abercrombie

Printed in Canada

Dolly Publishing Inc.

General Delivery

Roberts Creek, B.C.

Canada  V0N 2W0

It’s Noisy Out There!

Proverbs 3: (MSG)
6  Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Life was much simpler growing up for me.  There wasn’t many distractions like there are in this twenty first century.  Maybe, just maybe, my parents and grandparents thought life was complicated.  Yet there were only three major television networks to choose from, and yes, PBS.  So programs were more geared towards the whole family watching as one unit.

Computers were that of science fiction.  I began hearing about computer programming in my high school years and it required something most students today would know little about.  It was called a “punch card”.  Computers then could and most did take up a whole city block.  A computer in your home was still far years in my future.  So there was no creation of social media, live streaming and more websites than one could dream of.

I remember when it was announced that there would be a twenty four hour, seven day a week news channel.  That was the birth of what we now know as CNN.  Critics laughed at the idea for they believed there was enough content to fill that much air time.

Wars were something that happened in a far off land and only came into the home via the supper news broadcast.  Images were days old of the Vietnam war before they ever reached the shores of North America.  Now along comes President George H. W. Bush and the gulf war.  Now those battles were broadcasted live through yes, the network which people scoffed at, CNN.

The invention of the satellite became the tool of instant news, music and the advent of around the clock opinion talk shows.  Those radio shows were so successful that people began to take them and create them for the television audience.  The Oprah Winfrey Show was born.  That show changed how North America spent its afternoons.

Soon there would come what some called “shock jocks”.  Shows that pitted people against each other, chair fights, people spilling their dirty little secrets.

The idea of the show where the family could all watch was now a dusty relic in some studio warehouse.  Only shown are late nights in syndication.  Now it was evening entertainment that included murder, mayhem and marital affairs.

Yes, the world became smaller and also became even noisier.

Quiet time was much harder to find.  Mention the term ‘quiet time’ and the children connect it to punishment for unwanted behaviour.

Gone were the days like when my mother had everyone sitting at the dining table for supper every night at the same time.  Where friends knew not to call, and if the phone did ring it was not allowed to be answered.

Also, were the days where parents met and knew the friends of their children including their home phone numbers and addresses.

Then came email.  Advertising would no longer be the same.  Now companies were fighting for your time not only between television and radio shows they were fighting for your attention in what we like to call “spam mail”.

Yes, everywhere you turn someone is wanting a portion of your waking hours.

Have you attended your local church lately?  Even it is competing for your time and attention.  I was shocked one morning when I tuned in a church program and found that it resembled more of a night club than the Sunday Morning service when I was growing up.  It is now the popular thing to be deemed a “mega church”.  No longer are the days of basically knowing everyone in your local congregation and where a visitor is greeted by all those attending.  I would imagine that in our world today it would be hard to get to really know anyone in those large meetings.  Do they even have a mid-week prayer service?  My guess would be that it is doubtful.  From my understanding there is no longer a Sunday Night evangelistic type service.

Yes, my world and yours has become a lot more noisier.

Schedules are so full but yet it feels like accomplishments are few.  I am amazed by my daughter and how she is ever so busy trying to fit in all the activities that my grand children are involved in. Then also, she runs a credited day care out of her home.

I wonder today how many have time to sit in quiet without outside distractions to open their Bible for devotions in the morning and a time of study during the evening.  With all of the voices that seem to invade our twenty four hour day, how does a family find time for family prayer and Bible reading?

I find myself having to block out my television, make myself find time to study the Scripture.  To find time to find daily things that I am grateful for, even if they seem little to others around me.  It is so easy to get caught up in others drama to block those noises and just fill myself with that which God wants in my life.

Is your world full of useless noises that rob you of precious time with God, family, church and friends?  Maybe, you live your life in one hundred and forty characters.  Posting the silliest of things that in the grand scheme of things really do not matter.

This past year of 2016 has been one of those years that was a total barrage of voices and noises.  Every channel blasting their opinion about presidential candidates.  I even found myself caught up in this whirlwind of the presidential election in the United States.

I have had to go back to my roots, take back my time and energy for what really matters in my life.  God first, family second, then friends and strangers.

I urge the reader today, rethink your time and energy.  Go back, shut out the voices of the television, radio, and the social media and dust off that Bible, exercise your needs and refill your life with that which God would have for you.

Please read the following poem by:

C. T. Studd

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

— extra stanza —

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee

I learned this when I was young.  Make it your prayer today!

 


God’s Manual For Life

Proverbs 1: (MSG)
1  These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king—
2  Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going;
3  A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair;
4  To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.
5  There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,
6  still a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.
7  Start with GOD—the first step in learning is bowing down to GOD; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

When my daughter was born I was so excited.  Her little body in my arms and her wrinkled newborn skin.

It was amazing how this little baby spent nine months in her mother’s womb which was her lifeline.

Now it was myself and her mother to give her everything that she would need to grow and flourish.  She was totally dependant on us to feed her, diaper her and all things that a baby needs.

I remember hearing someone say about raising a child ‘they do not come with a manual’.   Well they do, it is called “The Word of God”.

Someone once mad the remark that if we knew the future we wouldn’t need faith.  Oh, how that is so true.   We do not have the roadmap of life, all we can do is have faith in God that he will direct our footsteps like the Scripture proclaims.

Like many others on this Christian road I have stumbled and fallen, but I didn’t stay down.  I asked God to help pick me back up to continue my trip.  As many times before He did not fail in picking me back up and put me back on my feet.

If you are on this road called Christianity keep moving forward with the Lord guiding your footsteps and let him light your path.

Who Are You When in Trials?

Job 1:  (MSG)
1  Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion.
2  He had seven sons and three daughters.
3  He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!
4  His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking.
5  When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.
6  One day when the angels came to report to GOD, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them.
7  GOD singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?” Satan answered GOD, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”
8  GOD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”
9  Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart?
10  Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!
11  “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”
12  GOD replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of GOD.

How a person handles adversity says a lot about their character to those who are watching.  It also tells God how strong your faith in Him is.

Let me first debunk a false doctrine that many believe, that if you are suffering you must have committed a sin.  If you are sick then you must not have enough faith or you would be healed.  The exact opposite is true.  No where in scripture does it teach the erroneous doctrine that I have just mentioned.

I am using the man called Job as one example, but there are numerous more throughout God’s word.

A elder of mine use to say, that what doesn’t kill you, will make you better.  Someone else once stated, if the enemy isn’t bothering you, he has you.  Both statements are quite true as we walk this human life on earth.

Job lived a Godly life and God protected him.  Satan knew it, so he walks into the throne of God and asks that God take down the protection that is around him.  Satan, the accuser of the brother, told God that if He would do this, Job would curse God.  How wrong the enemy was about Job!

Well, the conversation went back and forth between God and Satan.  Finally God relented and took down the hedge from around Job, but with one condition.  Satan could do anything to Job except take his life.

Things started to go bad for Job.  He began to lose his wealth, his properties, then his sons and his daughters.  Yet through all this Job did not curse God.  Even when his own wife told him to curse God and die Job replied to her that she talked like a foolish woman.  Job told her, ‘though God slay me yet I will trust him’.  Not one time did Job lose faith in the God of Israel.

I have been through many trials, sickness, even almost death but never once have I lost total faith in God.  Somehow I knew deep within me that God would see me through.

Just in the last few years I have experienced my share of sickness and stays in the hospital.  During one stay they tell me I went septic.  I found it that is when poison in your body enters your blood stream.  I was told that I was like that for four days.  I have no memories at all from the days.  The doctor walked in after I came through it and asked if I remembered him.  I did not.

Back in the late 1980’s I was thrown from the back of a motorcycle landing on my seat.  The impact ripped away everything from spine.  The following morning the morning nurse came into my room with a tray of things.  I moved to look towards her.  The tray she was carrying landed with a crash on the floor.  I asked her what was wrong.  She related to me that she had just come from reports and the doctors had stated that I would be at least a paraplegic.  I can say today that I am still walking, but if I would be in a wheel chair I know I would still trust God.

I am not immune from having my trust in God challenged.  It has even been challenged with the sudden death of friends and family.

Yes, we may not like going through hard times.  Even times where it seems like death would be the best option instead of facing major illness.  Through all these things we must not lose faith in God, knowing that He will bring us through.  That we have not sinned because of the trials and tribulations we face in our life.

Yes, it matters who we are when going through trials.

Never give up, but look up.  Like Job, God saw him through.  The Scripture tells us that everything that Satan stole from him was restored with a double portion in his latter life.

 

 


 

God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle

Excellent article! If you have ever cried over something I recommend to read this.

Broken Believers

I have cried many tears in my life. If you have never cried, you can stop reading right now. But if you have shed tears for yourself or for others, or if like me you have shed some without even knowing why or where they came from, take heart. God knows the tears you have shed. Psalm 56:8 says so. Here are several translations of that wonderful verse:

Record my lament;
       list my tears on your scroll —
       are they not in your record? (NIV)

You have taken account of my wanderings;
         Put my tears in Your bottle
         Are they not in Your book? (NASB)

You keep track of all my sorrows.
      You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
      You have recorded each one in your book. (NLT)

Write down my poem of sadness.
      List my tears on your scroll.
      Aren’t you making a record of…

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Life Isn’t Cheap!

Luke 14:28 (MSG)
28  “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?

Jude 1:3 (MSG)
3  Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.

Genesis 32: (MSG)
22  But during the night he got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.
23  He got them safely across the brook along with all his possessions.
24  But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
25  When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
26  The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.” Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”
27  The man said, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Jacob.”
28  The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
29  Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?” The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.
30  Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”
31  The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip.
32  (This is why Israelites to this day don’t eat the hip muscle; because Jacob’s hip was thrown out of joint.)

There’s one thing that I learned at a young age, everything will cost you.  Financially, mentally, and yes even, spiritually.  There is no such thing as a free ride.  I know there are a few who are born into a wealthy family but somehow they are void of all that seems down to earth.  They have no appreciation for even the smallest things in life.

From grade seven on I always had some type of part-time work.  When I entered high school I was told I was responsible for all my school supplies and clothing.  Anything after that was mine to spend the way I felt.  Usually the extra was used to buy gospel records for my mother, or, to take my then girlfriend out for a burger etc.,

I was taught back then that if I were to quit school before grade twelve I would have to begin paying room and board.  When I left to have my first apartment Mom told me that the basic rule of thumb was not to spend more than one week wages for one month\s rent.  In today’s economy that is just not possible. 

I remember the first time I went grocery shopping after paying my rent, car insurance, and utilities, I had approximately ten dollars and that had to put gas in my car for a whole two weeks.

Let me say this, the scriptures give us much wisdom about finances.  Let me assure you this is not a message about giving to receive prosperity.  Christ gave us insight about counting the cost.  This applies in all areas of our life here on earth.

When I was about ten years old my parents went to London, Ontario to find a home for us to live in before moving there.  Well my siblings and myself were left with my aunt and uncle for the day.  My sister and I were told to go outside and play and were warned not to climb the one tree in the yard.  Well we didn’t listen so we began to climb.  I went first and my sister followed. I was on a branch and she stepped on it after me.  Needless to say that was the wrong thing to do.  The branch cracked and gave way and down I went landing on rocks that surrounded the trunk of that tree.  Several hours later in the emergency ward of the city hospital when the doctors told us the news.  I had broken both major bones in my left arm in three places.

My arm was in a cast for almost a full year because the bones would not heal properly.  Well the day arrived for the cast to be removed.  That was just before the beginning of a new school year.  A couple of weeks into the school year and we were playing baseball as part of the phys-end program.  I was standing off to the side near home plate.  The batter hit the ball, threw the bat which was heading directly for my head.  I put my right hand up to stop the bat only to snap my right wrist back and break more bones.

The doctors warned me and my mom that if I continue to break bones I would have problems later in life.  The doctor was right.  I have broken more bones throughout my life and now suffer with arthritis, osteoporosis all from my younger years.  Physical ailments can be treated and I take medications for the arthritis and the osteoporosis.  I seem to manage because I know that one day this old physical body will one day give way to death and return to dust of the ground.

The next part in one’s life that is even more difficult to handle is that of a mental health.  Mental health is critical to one’s ability to cope with every day situations.  For over twenty years I have battled depression, attempted suicide and now been diagnosed as bi-polar.  If you don’t have great mental health, it makes little difference how fit your body may be.  There are many things that will weaken mental health.  Scripture tells us , “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a contrite spirit drieth the bones”  I have been told arthritis is the drying of the joints in between our bones.

My one sister began to experience severe stomach problems.  Heartburn, stomach aches, etc.,  She would take antacids but with little relief.  Finally she was sent to see a specialist.  Some of said it is what you have been eating.  The doctor reversed that thought and asked her, ‘what’s eating her’.  It wasn’t the food that was causing the stomach ailments but rather forgiveness and bitterness.

Now the one thing that every follower of Christ must guard is our spirit.  Our mental health can bring on the weakening of our spirit.  Imaginations, and all manner of wicked thoughts.  We are warned to think on those things were are honest, etc.,  Sometimes we hear stories how someone sold their soul to be popular, talented, etc.,  The enemy of the followers of Christ knows that if he can corrupt, destroy, and discourage our spirit, he knows he has one.  We have been given all the armour we need through Christ Jesus.  We must constantly be diligent and continually to fight to keep the faith that was delivered to the early saints.

Yes, life is a battle.  For every action that we do there is an equal cost associated with our actions.  We can lose the battle with our body, even our mind, but if we lose the battle for our spirit, we then lose all that Christ died for on Calvary.

Follower of Christ, be on guard. The enemy does wander around like a roaring lion looking to see who he can devour.

Always feed your spirit with the Word of God.  Keep a humble heart, and a bowed knee before Christ.

Remember, the world owes you nothing.  Life definitely isn’t cheap!
 

When In Doubt Do This…

2 Corinthians 1: MSG
20  Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.
21  God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us.
22  By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

We live in a world that is constantly hurling scepticism, cynicism towards us through all manner of voices.  Sometimes it is hard to find anything positive to hope in.  Men break their promises, various teachers tell us why things cannot happen instead of why they should take place.

Maybe as children we learn it from our immediate family.  Could it be because as youngsters they tell us the existence of a Santa Claus only to find out later in our young lives that this is a total fabrication.  So, if this is a lie then maybe all the other things that we have been told are also falsehoods.

Our view of things around us are colored through this lens of unbelief.  So it is with the things of God.  Just maybe this God that we cannot see is also a myth handed down throughout the ages of man.

A man by the name of Abram out on the plains with his wife is outside his tent one night and his visited by angels from God.  They begin to tell Abram something that seems out of the reach of possibility. They bring him a promise from God that like the sands on the ground so shall his seed be.  Like the stars that shine in the night sky so shall his descendants be.  Abram finds this something he cannot comprehend.  You see he is an old man at the age of ninety and his wife, Sarai, is in her eighties.  Even in today’s standards this would be laughable.

On another night again outside the tent Abram tells Sarai what the angels had told him.  Well, she must have thought her husband has gone mad. Her reaction was to laugh out loud at such a story.  Time passes by and she convinces Abram to sleep with Hagar.  This was Sarai way to bring the story to be. Yet, this was not God’s plan. Hagar does bring forth a son, not the promised seed, but nevertheless a child for Abram.

Now it is Sarai’s time for a special visitation, the angels tell her the same thing that they had told Abram many years before.  She asks the angels how is this possible, they tell her that with God all things are possible.  One day finally the promise is conceived and with due time brings forth Isaac, the promised son.

I must admit there are many happenings throughout the Scriptures like that of the one which took place in the life of Abram and Sarai.  The three largest religions trace their ancestry back to that old couple.

Our minds are finite and God’s is infinite so that it escapes our understanding.  I do not claim to understand the mysteries of God or His ways.  All I can do is have simple child like faith in Him. 

As a young child I can remember telling my mother that I would be a preacher and not go to school for it.  I didn’t have the mechanics of this figured out, I just knew deep within me that it would happen.

I have mentioned in past posts that I learned to sing by my grandfather’s side.  He would expect us to learn put to memory the words of the gospel songs. 

In 1975, Easter Monday, March 31st, my grandfather while at his work suffered a major heart attack and died on the spot.  When I woke up that morning I wondered why my mother had not woke us up for school.  I looked around the house and neither of my parents were home.  Some time had past when finally they arrived home.  I was twelve years old and somehow I could sense something was not alright with them.  Little did I realise that my small world would ever be the same.  Mom told us what had happened.  All I could do was run upstairs to my bedroom and cry.

My grandfather was my world of music. No not the music of someone like Johnny Cash, but rather the songs like that penned by Dottie Rambo. 

The whole week was a blur, and to add insult to injury the funeral was delayed due to bad winter weather around the Windsor, Ontario area.

I started to keep my feelings to myself and on the inside I grew angry.  Angry at a God that took my grandfather from my life.  I was learning the accordion, then one day I took my accordion and placed it by the trash can.  I no longer wanted to learn and lost interest in any type of singing.

Little do I comprehend what was in store for my life.  We moved from the town where we lived and moved directly into the city of Windsor, Ontario.  Once in awhile we would go to my home church but it was a struggle for everyone and especially for me.  I use to try and play the old out of tune piano in the church only to be told not to touch it by my grandfather.

I was encouraged to try to play the old upright of a piano but many Sunday nights I would walk away from it in tears.

One night after I had fallen asleep in my bed I had a dream.  At the end of the dream it was like a voice within me to pick up where my grandfather left off.  I did not understand any part of this dream.

It’s strange how God begins to weave His wonders in our lives.  Things began to take place and one thing led to another.  The girl I was dating in my high school years told me that her and her family were moving out of the area.  The amazing thing was this.  They gave me the old upright piano from their home for my own use.  Well I worked hard to save up money to have that old piano tuned.  I then would begin to sit down and work on my learning it.  Not from lessons, but from following my inner musical ear.

One night we attended my home church and my pastor who believed in prayer called me from the piano and prayed over my hands.  Well, as some would say, the rest is history.  It wasn’t long before I was asked by a evangelist to travel and be part of his music team.  From that I was able to travel most of my home country of Canada and also many parts of the United States.

I have written all that to say this, if all that could happen from something I thought was a disaster, then I can write today like the scripture tells us that the promises of God are Amen and Amen.

You might be going through what might be considered a total disaster in your life but I am writing to tell you don’t let the voices of doubt make you waiver from the very promises of God in your life.

Yes, even when facing the worst of death there can come from it a much promised breathed life in God.  Sometimes, we do not see why God is allowing us to face such trials and tribulations. Yet, like Abram and Sarai we must believe that what God has spoken He is faithful to bring it to pass.

The road in our life can sometimes take many twists and turns but if we are faithful to God, God will direct our footsteps.

Let me encourage to open the Scriptures to the Book of Job.  Read the story of his time of troubles, how he went through the valley of death but God brought him through to the other side.  The latter part of Job’s life was greater than his beginning.

So, when in doubt do this one thing, hold on tight.  It may be a rough ride, but the Master is on board the ship and you will make it to the other shore.

How to Make A Difference

 

Psalms 1:1-6 MSG
1  How well God must like you— you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
2  Instead you thrill to GOD’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.
3  You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.
4  You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust—
5  Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.
6  GOD charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.

I guess I have always known that I was different than my peers.  In school I was not the most popular, or the smartest, and definitely not the one with the most Braun.

During my high school years I wasn’t out hanging with the crowd, going out to all hours of the night.  I only had one girlfriend through those years.  Being vulgar was not me.  Showing disrespect was not in my character.

The adage, ‘behind every good man is a woman’.  I truly believe this, but maybe it should be said like this, ‘behind every good man is a Godly woman’.  For which I had two behind me.  My mother and my maternal grandmother.

Both were women who to the best of their ability lived Godly lives.  I cannot ever remember either using a cuss word.  My grandmother was one who trusted God and raised seven children to do the same.  So it is of no surprise that my mother was the same. 

These two women gave me a legacy, not of money, buildings, but a legacy of faith in God and a knowledge of the Scriptures.

If every one would leave a legacy of faith in God and a knowledge of the Scriptures this world that we live in would be a different place. 

Yes, it is nice to leave your children and your children’s children some type of financial gift, but that is not the riches that are eternal.  Christ gave us a commandment to lay up our treasures in things that are above, not on things that will rust and decay.

Yes, we can be the difference in someone else’s life.  It is time to be that difference.  Start today.