Thursday, September 8, 2016

from Life Sentences by Warren Wiersbe:
" The Bible opens with the  garden of Eden and closes with the garden city of Heaven.  It goes from sin and death to holiness and life.  What caused the change?"
"Between these two gardens is the Garden of Gethsemane where the Son of God prayed, 'Not my will but yours be done.' (Luke 22:42)  and went forth courageously to die on a cross.  Because Jesus died and rose again, the curse caused in the first garden has been overcome.  The last book in the English Old Testament ends with the word curse (Mal. 4:6), but in the last book of the New Testament we read, 'No longer will there be any curse.' (Rev 22:3)  The gift of eternal life is available to all who put their trust in Jesus.  The Bible records this remarkable story so you and I may read it, believe it, and experience  all that God has for us."  

I think of several things as I reread these words written by Warren Wiersbe.  First of all, the gardens--Eden, Gethsemane, and Heaven.  Is there  anywhere more peaceful, inviting and pleasant than a beautiful garden--a place to refresh a weary soul, a place to meditate, a place to rejoice in the beauty of Creation?   I had never thought of the  Bible story beginning and ending with a garden setting. 
Something else Mr. Wiersbe pointed out: the climax of the Biblical story for mankind occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane. I understand the importance of Jesus staying true to the wishes of His Father at that point; but, in the literary analysis, I had never put my finger on that particular situation as being the climax of mankind's struggle for reconciliation with God.  The moments Jesus spent in Gethsemane represented the point of no return for Him and for us. After Jesus submitted to God's will in that garden, there was no turning back for Him, no using His supernatural powers to stop the madness, cruelty, and pain being unleashed around Him and upon Him. 

In Gethsemane, Jesus chose to suffer the pain and shame associated with the cross in order t o accomplish the task for which He been born the Son of Man.  He chose to fulfill the purpose for which His Father had sent him into a sinful world. 

The climax of a story is the highest point of suspense, the point at which the conclusion of the story must necessarily come.  Before He could leave the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had been betrayed by Judas and arrested by the authorities and others who despised him.  It is through Christ's  resurrection that we mortals, humankind, share in the victory over death and are able to look forward to eternal life with God in His heavenly home.  Jesus had to die, descend into hell, and conquer death and demons in order to obtain our salvation.  But, for a moment, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, seems to vacillate.  In Matthew 26, verses 39, 42, and 44, we see that three times Jesus asked that, if possible, He be spared the awful crucifixion.  Each time, however, He also asked that His Father's will, not His, be done. Here is Jesus at a fork in the road: He can avoid the cross, thereby condemning mankind to eternal damnation, or He can endure the agony of the cross and insure mankind   eternal life in Heaven if he will only believe in the Resurrection.  Jesus chose to sacrifice Himself in order to fulfill God's wishes and save mankind from the eternal darkness of death.
The Bible is a story of God's love for his people, His faithfulness to us, and His willingness to sacrifice for us.  The verse, "Greater love has no man than he who  lays down His life for another."  This verse illustrates God's love for us.  God became incarnate and died for us.  This sacrifice is especially awesome because God sacrificed His only begotten Son.  While I myself might be willing to die for someone or a cause I feel strongly about, I would not willingly sacrifice one of my daughters or grandchildren for anyone.
Men throughout the world and time have wanted a son to carry on the family name.  The idea of sacrificing the only son, would not be acceptable to most of us.
I hate the idea of one of my grandsons ever having to go to war or to meet cruel, hateful people who will despise and scorn them because of their skin color, their birthplace, their Christian beliefs.  If I were able, I would wrap them in cotton and keep them safe. I do, however, know that God has a plan for each of my grandsons; I know God loves them and will them if they will just listen and follow God's voice.
Yes, sacrificing one' s son for the redemption of others is showing inconceivable love.  How awesome and great is God's love for us all!  It is by His grace that we are saved from death and look forward to  eternal life with all the saints.  We look forward to walking with Jesus one day in a heavenly garden from which all curses have been removed.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.  Isa. 49:16

Lord, forgive me for putting 
   so much time and energy
       into worldly things. 
Help me to clear my mind
     of unnecessary, 
             frivolous concerns.
 Help me to stay focused 
      on You and Your kingdom.
 Let me honor You in all I do or say. 
Give me patience 
      with myself and others. 
Just as I am not perfect, 
      let me forgive others
     who are not perfect either. 
Let me show love and humility to those
      with whom I become annoyed.
 Let me be a willing, eager servant 
       to those in need. 
Forgive me for not doing 
     those things I should.
Be with those who are hurt,
     sick, …..grieving,….. lonely. 
Remind me that they 
      are my responsibility. 
Let me show kindness… mercy … 
      love to all.
Let me turn my back 
      on self pity and jealousy.
 Let me return good for evil.
Let me build up 
      instead of tearing down.
Help me to remember
     that my name is engraved
     on the palms of Your hands.
Assure me that You 
      will not forget or desert me. 
I praise You 
      for the goodness and joy 
      I experience daily. 
Thank You, Almighty God 
     for all things.
In Christ's name.

Lord, I have been so remiss 
   about having quality time for You, 
   with You, my Creator and Sustainer. 
Forgive me.
When I am not putting You first,
      I get into trouble with myself and my relationships.
      I become dissatisfied with my life,
          … wallow in self pity,
          …become ugly and nasty,                                                  
          … feel inferior and worthless.
Lord, help me remember
      I cannot bring honor and glory
          to Your name
          when I am so negative. 
I hurt others and myself unnecessarily
           --actions that make me  feel
           more disgusted with myself.         
Forgive me.
Remind me that I am Your child, 
       Your beloved. 
What joy it is to know this;
       but, even knowing this,
       I continue to let petty slights 
       hurt and sour my day.  
Let me look up, not down.
Let me look inward and find rest and peace for my soul.  
Remind me  I have been created
     to glorify you  
     to do all things
    in accordance with Your will.  
    I am here to serve, not to be served.
    I am to be Your hands and feet, Lord;  
    I need Your strength and guidance.   

Thank you for my family, 
     for a husband who has loved me over fifty years, 
     for grandchildren who love us, 
     for daughters who bless us, 
    for sons-in-law who value their wives and children, 
    for friends, 
    for my church and church family, 
    for blessings innumerable.  (July 21, 2016)
Let Me Build Others Up 

Heavenly Father,
Be with me today.
Let my words and actions 
please You.
Let my heart sing with joy
     because I am Your child.
Let me bring honor and glory
     to Your name.
Let me love.
Be with my loved ones; 
 Guide me to hurting people;
Lead me to places
      where I am needed.
Let me feel your holy presence;
Give me strength;
Give me Your comfort
Help me to see the lonely hearts
     in my life.
Be with those who mourn
     the loss of loved ones,
     the loss of the security of routine,
     the loss of jobs and traditions.
Assure them that all things
     will be done in accordance
     with  Your Will.

Be with those who are estranged
     from family members
     from friends.
     from You.
Lead them and show them
     how to walk across the room
         of reconciliation.
Be with those who live
     in the dark caves of depression,
     feeling unloved,
Shine the beacon of Your light on them.
Illuminate the path for them to follow
      from the depths of despair
     into the sunlight of Your love and grace.
Let them feel the warmth of Your presence.

Lord, as I age, help me
     have a positive attitude,
     look at myself and evaluate myself
     before giving in to the temptation
      to point accusing fingers at others.
Thank you for my many blessings/
Let me build others up in love;
      not tear them down in jealousy.
                                    In Christ's name.