DO YOU WANT GOD TO LOOK AT YOU?

I dare say that the majority of folks don’t want God to look at them.  We are too messy.  We have made too many mistakes.  We have become too sinful to be seen by a holy God. 

The reality is, however, that God does see us.  He sees us each and every day, every moment actually.  God is omnipresent and omniscient.  He is everywhere and He knows everything.  So, He sees us more than we can imagine!

We look at His creation and it reveals His Glory.

The tiny hummingbird that can reach speeds of 60 mph!

We see stunning scenery and we know it is God’s creative hand on display!

We look at the beauty of created creatures and consider why such a caring God would craft creatures with such beauty.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah had numerous insights into the plight of mankind.  Often, Isaiah would relay messages to the people from the Lord, whether or not the people wanted to hear or learn from those messages.

In the book of Isaiah, we read the following:

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?  All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

Isaiah 66:1-2

Our earth is really nothing more than a footstool for God.  Heaven is where He is enthroned.  In this passage God is saying that He has made all things.  God is reminding us that we are not the creative geniuses that we think we are.  He is the creator, we are the creatures.

But far more than that, in this passage we read what is important to God.  Remember, this is God speaking:

“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

Matthew Henry says this about Isaiah 66:2:

God has a heaven and earth of his own making, and a temple of man’s making; but he overlooks them all, that he may look with favour to him that is poor in spirit, humble and serious, self-abasing and self-denying, whose heart is truly contrite for sin, penitent for it, and in pain to get it pardoned, and who trembles at God’s word, with an habitual awe of God’s majesty and purity and an habitual dread of his justice and wrath. Such a heart is a living temple for God; he dwells there, and it is the place of his rest; it is like heaven and earth, his throne and his footstool.

We don’t need to fear God if we are washed in the blood of Christ Jesus and if we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.  If we are humble and serious, self-abasing and self-denying, contrite over our sin and penitent for it, and desiring to get it pardoned, God will hear our cry and grant our request.

So, are you humble?  Are you contrite in heart?  Do you have an awe of God’s majesty and purity and a dread of His justice and wrath?  If so, God calls you to rest in Him. forever!

Father, help me to cast away all the things that weigh me down and so I can look only to You.  Help me to cast aside the material things of this world so I may partake of the spiritual things that You desire to provide to me.

Finding contentment!

Long ago, Aesop created a fable regarding a dog seeing its reflection as he crossed a stream.  Basically, the story line is that the dog is carrying a stolen bone [although other variations say it was a piece of meat or cheese] as he crosses a stream.  He sees his reflection in the water and believes that it is another dog.  Not only that, but he sees that the other dog has a bone [or some meat or cheese, as the case may be] and he believes it to be bigger and better than that which he has in his mouth.  Thus, he opens his mouth to bark at the other dog and get that trophy and, in so doing, the bone in his own mouth falls into the stream and is lost, both to the dog and to his reflection!

I have known this fable for many years and have seen it, recently, enacted in our own family room.  We have two miniature pinchers rescue dogs, and they have provided us with hours of humor and entertainment.  Almost without exception, when one is playing with a toy or chewing on a bone, it matters not that there are 3 other toys/bones on the floor; the second Mini Pin is jealous and wants the one that the first dog is chewing.  In short, the only toy that is worthwhile is the one that is being used at the moment. 

The second Mini Pin ultimately will begin, half-heartedly, chewing on a different bone or toy when the first dog will stop with what she has and go stare longingly at the second dog and what she has.  When this happens, often the second dog will “give up” what she is doing and hasten to the toy/bone that was abandoned.

How like children to fight over the blue ball in the toy box when there is a red one right next to it!  How like teen boys to fight and maneuver their way into dating the cheerleader when there are other delightful young ladies who never get a glance!  How like adults who want the next electronic toy when they haven’t really figured out how to use the one they already have!

While the dogs don’t have words to say and they would not necessarily understand the concept, what they are doing is being discontented with their lot.  We laugh when we see the Mini Pins in our home doing this, and we often laugh when we see babies or children doing this.

Scripture is filled with admonitions that we should be content with our position.  That is certainly not to say that we should not seek to make our lives better or to do more for others for whom life is more difficult.  But, we should be content with the things that God has granted to us. 

Indeed, our Lord told His disciples to be content. We read this in Luke:

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

Luke 3:4

In Philippians, the Apostle Paul said the following:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Philippians 4:11

The writer of Hebrews continues in this vein when he writes that the Hebrews should be content with what they have.

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said: “I will never leave you nor forsake

Hebrews 13:5

Our canine daughters played a good bit more years ago, now they are more relaxed and enjoy the comfort of their bed, even with both of them curled up together.

The are content. … unless we are too late in giving them their treats, Then, all bets are off!

However, I believe that we, as children of our Heavenly Father, can, and should, exercise more discipline so that we are content, even if our treat is late in coming.. God has told us that His ways are not our ways. Indeed, He has said through the prophet Isaiah: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

We must remember that we are the creation. Albeit we are the paramount of God’s creation, we are still, nonetheless, created beings. We are not infinite, we are not all knowing, we are not all powerful, in short, we have none of the attributes that epitomize our God. For that reaon, we cannot be like God, knowing the future as the past, even knowing the present moment.

Praise the Lord tht He has faithful and true. That He is with us every step of the way, even when we are unaware of His presence. praise His name that He cares for us and that He will be with us even when the days are dark and fearful.. Be content, my friend. There is nothing more wonderful than being content with where the Lord has me because I know that it is the best place that I could ever be!

Father, forgive me when I have sown the seeds of discontent. Help me to remember that You want the best for me and that Your will is the best place for me to me. Keep me in Your will, Dear Lord, and when I veer to the side, pull me back so that I am once again in your hands..

IF MY PEOPLE PRAYED!

What would it be like if the Christians in this world took action … not military action but action that seeks the Lord?  What would it be like if we each did that in our homes?  If we honored the Lord in all that we did, day to day, every day?

In Scripture we read this:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

This is one of the “if … then” promises in Scripture.  If we will do this, then God will do that.  In this case, if we will humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and then turn from our wicked ways, then God will hear, and forgive our sin and heal our land.

What wondrous love is this that God promises to forgive us for turning our backs away from Him.  Note that this is a promise, based on our actions. 

Oh Lord, our land needs you so very much.  May all those who call on your name be faithful and take your Word seriously.  May we humble ourselves and pray for our land, turning from our wicked ways and turning, instead, to You and Your Word.

The prophet Jeremiah received a message from God in which God said:

I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 24:7

What a blessing it would be if we would have a heart that knows God, that we would be thrilled to be called the people of God, and that we would turn to Him with our whole heart.  This will happen, oh that it would happen to us, now, as we seek to heal our land.

Blessings on you today as you walk with the Lord, our Savior.

Lord, forgive me when I have sinned.  Forgive me when I have ignored your Word and have ignored the needs of my neighbor.  Enable me to walk with you, Lord Jesus.  Help me to honor your Word and may I be humble and seek your  help me to seek your face as I pray for my country.

I will be off line for awhile.

I am sending this post as an apology for the infrequency of my posts recently.

For the past 6 months I have been having health difficulties that have intensified recently. I hate to say this, but I do not believe that I can publish anything regularly at this point.. I hope to be able to post something once a month, but even that may be a stretch.

I pray that The Ruminant Scribe has been of comfort, encouragement and maybe even challenging for you. I will return to posting as soon as I can and I covet your prayers as I struggle with these health issues. For now, though, I will watch the hummingbirds and revel in God’s glory.

Blessings to each of you, my dear readers.

Linda

BRIDGES

Bridges have always been a source of facination for me.  I love to drive across them and I love to look at them.  Some are known world wide, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Other bridges are not quite so well known.  Take for example some of these bridges that are beautiful and which take their job seriously.  This bridge is along the coastline of Oregon. 

This bridge is the Perrine Bridge in Jerome, Idaho, and it is beautiful as it spans the canyon created millenia ago.

This is just one of the bridges over the Mississippi River.      

Then there are the much smaller bridges that you come upon in the woods when you are walking the trail.   Here are a couple of samples that you might find on the next trail you walk.

This is a swinging bridge in Manitoba, Canada.  I don’t know if I would go down that bridge … I might find a boat to carry me to the other side of the stream.

Then we have the wooden plank bridge that goes between the two sides of the cavern below.

Wooden bridge across creek in the Smokey Mountains

And last, but certainly not least, we have the bridge over the Royal Gorge in Colorado. 

Bridge over the Royal Gorge, Colorado

All these bridges have something in common.  Not their construction materials or their location, not their popularity or their scare factor when looking down.  No, all these bridges have this common factor – they enable people to move from one side of the canyon/river/stream/whatever the hindrance may be, to the other side.

That is precisely what a bridge does.  We use the bridge to get where we could not otherwise go. That is its job.  That is its purpose. 

We have need of a bridge in our personal, spiritual life too.  In the Bible, Isaiah says this about our condition before God:

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;  but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Isaiah 59:1-2

IAdam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, and that set the tone for the rest of us.  We are all sinners and we cannot come to God on our own because God will not look at us in our sinful state.  This is what Isaiah said … our sins have hidden God’s face from us so that He will not hear us.   We are separated from God by our sin.  

Indeed, the Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards made this observation: “The smallest sin is an act of Cosmic Treason against a Holy God.”   Edwards also said: “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” 

How do we span the chasm that exists between us and God?  God did not forget our helpless estate.  Indeed, Jonathan Edwards noted: “The door of God’s mercy is thrown wide open, and Christ stands in the door and says to sinners ‘Come.’” 

On our own, we cannot span that chasm.  Rather, Jesus Christ is the intercessor between us and God; He spanned the chasm when He was on the cross, dying for our sin.  He led the perfect life that we cannot live, and He died the horrific death that we deserve.  He is the One who made it possible for us to cross the gulf between us and God.

Beloved, bridges are fun to drive across and to look at, to marvel at how they are constructed and to be thankful that they transport us to the other side of the river/stream/whatever.  But, the most important bridge that you can fathom is the intercessory work of Jesus Christ on your behalf. 

Trust Him.  Look to Him in all circumstances.  Praise His holy Name.  Thank Him for your salvation and for the gift of eternal life. 

Lord Jesus, we praise Your Name for the blessings that You so grant to us.  The freedom from sin, forgiveness when we do err, the gift of eternal life, the gift of the Holy Spirit Who guides and leads us moment by moment each day, and so many more blessings that are beyond counting.  We thank You and we praise Your Name.

OBEDIENCE IS BEST!

We want our pets to be obedient.

We want our children to be obedient.

But we, ourselves, are seldom obedient!

We have been reading 1 Samuel and specifically the downfall of Saul as the first human king of Israel.  Saul became pompous and disobeyed God’s command, resulting in God taking the kingdom away from Saul and, ultimately, giving it to David.

Here is what Samuel said to Saul:

And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23

Talk about speaking truth to power!  That was the unenviable job of the prophets, telling the people and those in power when they were in violation of their covenant with the Lord, prophesying about the coming judgment for their disobedience, and then giving them hope for the future if they repented of their sins.

For Saul, the Lord rejected him as king because Saul rejected the word of the Lord.

The words of Samuel have something to say even to 21st century folk.  Do we listen to the Lord?  Do we obey what we hear? 

I remember when I was young my mother would say that the words she spoke to me went in one ear and out the other! 

Is that what we do with the message from God?  Do we let it go in one ear and not take root but just slip out the other ear without any change in our mind, heart or actions?  

If we don’t pay attention to God’s words, Samuel says it is rebellion and presumption.  Notice, presumption is “as iniquity and idolatry”.  Why is this true?  Because when we presume that we know best, we are setting ourselves up as our own idol.  We say that we don’t need God … we know what is best for us and we will do it.

Anything that takes the place of God in our heart, mind and soul is an idol, and God will not tolerate it. 

We read in Exodus 34:14:

(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God)

Exodus 34:14

The sin of idolatry is a direct affront to God and He will not be put aside.  He will not be numbered among the various gods that you worship … He must be supreme because He is the only real God of heaven and earth.  All other “gods” are the invention of mankind, made of wood or stone, unable to breathe or hear or speak.  In contrast, God has made all things, even us.  He will not be mocked.

Beloved, read the Word of God and take it to heart. Think about it, meditate on it and let it sink into your heart, mind and soul.  Don’t reject it as old school, out of date or irrelevant … it is as relevant to our 21st century world as it was 4000 years ago. 

Don’t become your own idol.  You are finite, you are not in control, you will ultimately die.  At that time, you will face God and He will judge you.  Oh, Beloved, trust in the Lord Jesus for your salvation.  Repent of your sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior.  You won’t be perfect, far from it; but in Christ Jesus you will have an advocate with the Father and you will be clothed in Christ’s righteousness. 

Blessings to you.  I pray that you will not reject the words of Christ Jesus but that you will read the Bible, even the Old Testament because even there you will find words to live by and guidance for your life as it points forward to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, I pray that Your words in scripture would be soothing to readers and that they would enlighten the heard and mind of those who come to You in faith.  Bless the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart that they might be pleasing to You.

Do you have power?

This morning I put my bagel in the toaster and walked away to get the juice from the refrigerator.  As I moved across the kitchen, I thought something was wrong, but couldn’t put my finger on it.  I turned to look at the toaster and the bagel was still sticking out of the toaster’s top.  Interesting, I thought.  I walked back and realized that I failed to plug the toaster into the wall socket. 

The toaster’s source of power was right there, waiting to be used, almost willing that the plug would come over and move into the socket.  But it wasn’t until I plugged the toaster into the power source that it became a useful kitchen tool, toasting my bagel for my breakfast.

I returned to the refrigerator to get the juice and I thought how much like the toaster I was.  When I’m sitting in my chair, and I haven’t spoken to my Lord at all, I haven’t read His Word at all, I haven’t prayed to Him at all … I am not plugged into my power Source.  I can do a lot of things in that condition, but none of them will be what the Lord has asked of me. 

The power to do what He asks is from Him, not from me.  He asks me to love others.  I can do that without His power, but it will be a selfish love, a love that says “I’m doing this for you but I would like for you to do something for me, too”.  Or, “I hope you realize all that I am doing for you!  Give me some credit for being so nice!”

The love from Jesus, however, is a self-sacrificing love.  It is love for the enemy, for the one who has harmed us, for the one who detests us … we are to love even them.  The love from Jesus is love that has no self interest at heart; it is love that is pure and centered on the one we are serving in love.  It is not mushy, heart-warming love, it is hard and difficult to do and it cannot be done in our own power.  The power must come from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

John 13:34

Again Jesus said:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, … But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luk 6:27.35-36

We are to love others for a multitude of reasons, but here are just a few:

  1. We are to love others because it is a command from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 6:27)
  2. We are to love others because we are to be the kind of person He is, and He loved others expressing that love even when He was on the cross. (Luke 23:34. “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”)
  3. We are to love others because God loved us when we were still sinners, having compassion on us and being merciful to us.  (1 John 4:10-11  “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.)

Beloved, rely on the Lord Jesus Christ to give you the power to love as you should love.  Do not rely on your own strength, will-power, or determination.  Let the love of the Lord Jesus Christ flow through you to others.  Then it will be the love that goes beyond all limits and boundaries.  It will be divine love that comes from God, the Father and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have power?  Oh yes you do, through the Lord Jesus Christ!

Father, thank You for giving Your Son to be our Savior.  Thank You for loving us even when we were sinners and when we were running away from You as fast as we could, doing evil and hating others all the while.  Thank You for bringing us to Your Son, our Lord, and for His atoning work on the cross on our behalf, for the Lord taking our sins upon Himself and giving us His righteousness in exchange for our sins.  What a marvelous blessing You have given us.  Thank You Father.  Thank You Son, Redeemer and Savior.  Thank You Holy Spirit. Amen.

FAMILIES

I am an only child.  Therefore, my family is quite small … my Father, Mother and me and my dog Tippy.  (The picture was taken before we obtained Tippy!)   While I have several cousins, we probably couldn’t fill up a large SUV! 

We have some friends in our church who have 10 grandchildren, all in one family.  The eldest granddaughter recently married a man who also was from a family of 10 children, and they are already expecting their first child.  I simply cannot comprehend that large a family!

Families are complex entities, subject at any moment to be loving and forgiving and then turning on a dime to be condemning and hateful.  Since I don’t have any siblings, I can’t emphasize with those who have struggles with their siblings.  I certainly know that such difficulties exist, however.

One thing I do understand — the church family.  The people my parents worshipped with at the time I was born prayed for me, as I weighed only 3 pounds 10 ounces, not a survivable weight in the 1940s.  But my Father called the church and they prayed for both me and my Mother.

I contracted polio and required experimental back surgery when I was 9, a surgery that required being in a body cast for a year.  The church family surrounded me with love, prayers and well-wishes, their helping gestures were too numerous for me to comprehend.

Years later, when I was a single parent attending law school, a different church family came to my rescue on numerous occasions as they took care of my young children, brought food, and prayed for me, among other things.

Now my children have children of their own and my husband and I enjoy the marvels of a loving family as we gather to celebrate various occasions, such as my husband’s birthday yesterday. 

But our nuclear family is not the only family the Christian has — the obligation to participate in the church family’s health and safety looms large as we remember Jesus’s admonition to care for each other.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

John 13:34

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:34-36

The Apostle Paul, writing in the book of Romans, said this about our love for each other:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:10

In John’s first epistle, he reiterated the place that love should have in our lives.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 

1 John 4:7

The church family – it is much like our earthly families.  There are those we love to get together with and there are some we would more than likely shy away from.   Some folks are easy to get along with and others are more difficult.  Then there are those who are beset with dementia, and other mental disorders, and they often are unaware of the difficulties that they create on a daily basis.

But, we are called to love and care for them. 

Why? 

Because we are just as unlovely as the other folks in the church family.

Why?

Because God loves us and gave His Son for us. 

Why? 

Jesus commanded us to love each other.

Showing kindness and mercy is hard when we are pressed about with other things that call for our attention.  Showing love is hard when the person to whom it is extended does not want it or will not remember it moments later.   But that is exactly what Jesus commands that we do.  Further, it is what He did when He died on the cross for us.  He gave us love when we did not deserve it and when we didn’t even know it existed. 

Praise His holy name for all the wondrous works that He has blessed us with on a moment-by-moment basis!

Even if your family is not exactly as you would have wanted, love them.  Show Christ’s love to them.   And extend that same love to those who are in your church family.  We are called to do so.  Don’t ignore a command of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Follow Him and He will give you the grace and patience, the wisdom and courage to undertake the task, even if it is difficult.  After all, He promises that He will be with you all the way!

Lord, there are often times when I don’t think I can do it.  Help me to remember that my family and my church family both need my care and concern for them.  They may need food and clothing, a ride to the doctor or an appointment for a haircut.  Help me to be sensitive to their needs as we go through the days waiting for Your return.

Joy in difficult times

Have you ever done something simply because it felt good?
During the cold months, we have an example of this everyday with our little Snickers, a miniature pincher (although I think there was a chihuahua mixed in there somewhere). We have coats for both Snickers and Cuddles and they wear them outside, and sometimes inside, when the temperature dips.

Cuddles likes the coat but when she comes inside, she immediately runs to a chair and walks back and forth until she opens the Velcro fastener. Then she tries to get it off with the result that she often has an “off the shoulder” look as she seeks our help in relieving her of the cumbersome coat.

Snickers does not object to the coat like her sister … she tolerates it without complaint, walking around the house with it on until the time when we realize that she doesn’t need it on, and we take it off of her.

Then, her actions become the humorous event of the evening! In short, she drags her back legs along the floor, then flips onto her back and twists for a while, then she does a circle crawl … always the same thing and always prompting a chuckle from us.

So, what makes you happy so that you do your own version of the happy dance?

During this year as we have experienced COVID-19, there has not been much to make us happy … lockdowns, illnesses, deaths, shortages of food and supplies, and the list goes on. Birthdays not celebrated, deaths not memorialized, anniversaries celebrated in front of the television … promises of future good things, of course, but we are still in the here and now.

Praise the Lord that God is in the here and now with us. He understands the pain of illness and ultimate loss. Remember Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ tomb as described in John 11:1-45. He understands the sorrow when a child is ill as described in Mark 5:22 when Jairus came to plead on his daughter’s behalf. He understands when we are tempted; Matthew 4:1 records when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Hebrews 2:18 says that because Jesus was tempted, he is able to help us when we are tempted.

Beloved, even in these difficult times that are lasting longer than we ever expected, there is reason to be joyful. The Lord is with us, comforting and encouraging us. We are not alone during these difficult days. Be joyful. Psalms exhorts us to be joyful on numerous occasions … see Psalm 95:1 for an example. Proverbs 17:22 says that a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Be joyful. Consider Snickers and her joy at being out of her coat. Now that is something that might bring a smile to your face, even in difficult times.

Lord, enable us to find joy even in hard times. Give us grace to be joyful and grant that we would praise You at all times, even when things are hard!