We have had several deaths in our church family recently, and their absence from our presence is a heavy burden. I realize that they no longer have pain and they no longer are suffering from a variety of illnesses and ailments. I also realize that, as Christians, they are in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What glorious blessings they are experiencing every moment.
David said in Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” While we may grieve the loss of friends and family, we have to remember that we are not designed for this world … our death and transfer from this world to the next is precious in the Lord’s sight.
But, in the here and now, God is with us and leads us as we seek out His will and as we are obedient to His direction. David said it this way in Psalm 71:17-20:
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
David says that God taught him from his youth, and that he is still proclaiming God’s wondrous deeds. Even when he is old and has gray hair, David is asking God not to forsake him but, rather, to let him tell the next generation about God’s power and the wondrous deeds that He has done.
In Psalm 30, David speaks of death and the reality that one cannot praise God on this earth if they have died.
“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?”
Of course, the answer to David’s question is “No!” The time for praise and telling others of God’s faithfulness is NOW.
We should make this a focal point of our lives, telling others of the goodness, mercy, and faithfulness of God. Telling others of the wondrous love of the Lord and His sacrifice for us, while we were sinners and His enemies! Telling others of the salvation that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ, and of the marvelous relief from the power of sin that this salvation works in us.
Do this in such a way that it is embedded in your actions and speech. You don’t need to give a sermon! Fly a kite with your grandson and tell Him of the God that sends the wind at His word.
Take care of the animals and tell how God has taken care of you through the years.
Interact with the grandchildren and weave the story of your walk with the Lord into the conversation. Let your life do the talking and then be ready to answer questions that may arise.
Have gray hair? Are you aged? Remember all the times that God preserved your during your youth. Remember the times that God led you even when you had no idea where you were going. Remember the times He protected you, aided you, healed you, loved you! Remember the years gone by, and then thank Him for His faithfulness to you. Do this by telling others of His great power and love, grace and mercy, and do it NOW!
Father, we get distracted by things in the world and we lose sight of what is truly important. Help me to tell others of the mighty works that You have done in my life as I tell of Your glory and majesty, Your saving grace and mercy. Give me boldness as I go about Your business today, so that my voice may be heard to Your glory now!
We were out to eat last weekend when a family passed us on their way to the restaurant table … a young child was asleep on his Daddy’s shoulder. What caught my attention was this sleeping child’s hand that was hanging over the man’s arm – the child was so sound asleep, his hand was absolutely limp so that it waved and wobbled with each step the man took.
Think about the last time you have really watched a child sleep. They seem to be able to sleep almost anywhere, with no trouble. Asleep at the porch table … I guess the food was not brought fast enough!
Then again, swinging and bouncing can sometimes lead to a tired child; touching the carpet with your tip‐toes can be hard for a little guy!
Think about being asleep with all sorts of commotion going on around you.
We have all seen little ones who are asleep in the car seat or carrier. A common sight often as infants are being carried through the store, swinging on Mom’s arm.
When we see these little ones we want to pray for their future, that they would know the Lord and for all the dreams, hopes and aspirations that come with new life.
Then there is the sleep of a child in the arms of one who loves him/her. We love the times that our children and grandchildren have climbed up into waiting arms and cuddled, secure in the embrace of a parent/grandparent who loves them, who will defend them, and care for them even when they are asleep and dreaming their wonderful infant dreams.
While we know that sleep is mandatory, that it is something that we must have for us to be healthy, often we adults simply do not get enough of it. Unfortunately, the pace of our world with jobs, housework, family, church, social obligations and who knows what else [you fill in the blank], creates such a frenetic atmosphere that we as adults simply cannot rest, relax … or sleep.
But sleep does not elude us just because of our calendars. Sometimes we have physical issues such as pain from an injury or surgery. Then too there are the psychological, emotional and spiritual issues that claim our night hours. It might be that we have worries about finances or health of ourselves, family or friends. There could be concern about employment security, about financing retirement, or about obtaining that first job in a market where jobs are truly scarce. Perhaps it is concern about words spoken that should not have been; deeds that we knew should be done but which were not; attitudes that colored our views of people and conversations which were unkind, at best. And aging, for some reason, seems to rob us of sleep so that it is harder to fall and stay asleep than it was years earlier.
Just as we cuddle our grandchildren, Scripture teaches that God longs for us to come to Him with outstretched arms.
God says in Isaiah 49:15 [NIV]:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! “
Again, in Isaiah 66:13 [NIV], the Prophet records God as saying:
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfortyou; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
David knew of this longing. Psalm 139 is an incredibly beautiful song talking of God’s love and His care for His children. I urge you to read the entire Psalm, but verses 8 through 10 [ESV] describe the omnipresence of God’s love and care:
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Hundreds of years after Psalm 139 was written, Jesus said:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 [ESV]
As Christians, the closeness that we have with God is described by Paul in Romans 8:15:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [ESV]
Where can you get rest? Ultimately, true rest is only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who has, through His death and resurrection, secured our ability to call out to God, “Abba Father”.
Believe in Him, then rest in Him, Beloved. He will hold you through all your difficulties, and He will never let you go!
We are getting ready to go on a short camping trip and in considering the things to take, I remembered a camping experience in March 2014 where I thought I had covered all the bases, but, the Horrible/Wonderful Camping Trip was the result!
One month earlier we had adopted Cuddles, the first of our two miniature pinchers.
She was just getting used to us at home when we took her on a camping trip with our then 7-year old grandson who wanted to go camping for “Spring Break” which happened to be toward the end of a very cold winter.
While our grandson had been in the RV before, Cuddles had not. (Picture of us on the way to the RV … excitement and anticipation oozing out of every pore!)
The response of our canine daughter was much less than enthusiastic when the sounds of travel in the RV began, and when she was harnessed into a seat which she did not particularly appreciate.
When we arrived at the huge campground we found only one other RV and it was being stored, not used. (This shows a big campground that is not filled with campers … picture this with rain and mud, then you get the idea!)
Another clue that this was going to be a memorable (?) trip was the weather – not only was it cold, we drove through heavy rain all the way to the campground. But Grammy and Papa persevered because they had promised a camping trip and, by golly, we were going to produce on our promise!
Cuddles, on the other hand, was not as excited since she was a bit more realistic … going to the bathroom in freezing cold rain, on wind-swept frozen grass is just not her cup of tea. (Here she is shown shortly before this trip in our backyard with her coat on, standing at the window while looking at the snow … “do I really have to get in that? I am, after all, a member of the family!”)
And the 7-year-old grandson anticipated, correctly, that it was likely going to be his job to walk Cuddles at the campground, with his jacket on and hood up, until she went to the bathroom since Grammy and Papa were old, or rather “seniors”!
We, however, dismissed the bad weather outside because we were ready for inside recreation. We came armed with games, DVDs and video games to play since the rain would prevent us from doing much outside – but within minutes the [new] DVD player developed a thumping sound that permeated the heart and mind of all of us. It was a pitiful sight to see us viewing Wallace and Grommit when we missed every 4th word or more because of the persistent pounding.
When the movie failed, we decided to run some water in the sink for hot chocolate — and the frozen hose burst. Same held true with the shower hose, so our entertainment became a trip to a delightful RV supply store with Papa and the grandson installing replacement hoses and faucets.
Thinking, perhaps, that a rest might have helped the DVD, we tried the movie again but Wallace and Grommit still thumped their way through missing words.
We noticed a “dog park” when we pulled into the campground, so we promptly took off for that once the rain had ended. When we got there, we saw all the elements of a doggy playground … teeter/totter, tunnel, low fence to jump, ramp up to a trestle and a ramp down on the other side, with a lot of room to run and all of it was fenced so no leash was needed. Just what the doctor ordered after confinement in the RV. But, it was MUDDY after all the rain … no grass, just mud. When our grandson started to run to entice Cuddles to run, both the dog and the boy rained mud and neither of them liked it!
We marched back to the RV with one very dejected young man. But then he cheered up when he remembered that we always had a campfire to make s’mores. (Note, this is the campfire our grandson was dreaming of!)
But, Papa correctly said no campfire that night because the wind was blowing far too hard: a campfire would not burn as it was too windy and too wet, not to mention cold! Dejection reigned supreme!
But Dejection had met its match when it encountered Grammy!
I had seen a “portable s’more maker” advertised in a catalog. It looked interesting so I purchased it. When it came, I described it to a coworker and she said: “A portable s’more maker? That’s a pile of wood and a match!”
Well, no one really took me seriously, but my time to shine had come … I looked at my grandson and said “We don’t need a campfire because we can make s’mores inside where it’s warm with Grammy’s portable s’more maker!”
While he was a bit of a doubter at first, when I brought out the box, the potential promise of s’mores was too strong — he was willing to open it, just in case I was right. The ceramic pot with sterno fuel provides the heat to cook, or burn, the marshmallow, as your discriminating taste may prefer. He loved it and we had fun making s’mores that evening, even if it was blustery outside in the frozen, virtually empty campground. Papa even joined in the fun although it was a bit crowded around the small “campfire” in the RV.
We left the campground early the next day and returned to the warmth of the fireplace at home and talked about our camping trip … laughing about the broken hoses, the dog park mud, the empty campground, and the inside s’mores.
I had planned for a camping trip because it was something that our grandson said he wanted – what he really wanted was time with us and memories that were unique to our experience. Those he got in abundance.
How like our relationship with God. In Deuteronomy 11:13 we are commanded
“to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul”.
This commandment did not end when Jesus arrived because He reiterates this as the greatest commandment for us in Matthew 22:37.
In fact, Jesus promised that His Spirit would be with us, enabling us to do that which He commanded. See John 14:16-17:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
How do we show our love? Think about your first love, your spouse, children, or parents. The ways love can be expressed are as many and myriad as there are people.
But one of the prime characteristics of love in action is that you spend time with the object of your affection. This love does not ignore the many obligations that we have on a day-to-day basis; nor does this mean that all the time together must be at play. But spending time with the one you love is paramount, just as is your desire to do so.
So, we say we love the Lord. Do we desire to be with Him? How do we show our love for God?
Psalm 106:1 says:
“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
In Psalm 77:12, David says:
“I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”
Do you meditate on Jesus?
Do you contemplateHis worthiness for praise and glory?
Do you read His Word and feed upon it?
Do you worship Him privately as well as in corporate worship with other believers?
Do you praise Him for all His marvelous works?
Do you joy in your relationship with Him?
The camping trip certainly could have been better from a camping perspective … but the time we spent with our grandson was wonderful as well as memorable.
Now, remember that the Lover of your soul, the omnipotent, creator God, the One who has loved you since the foundation of the world.. it is this God Who desires to spend time with you!