“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, for we are indeed his offspring.” (Acts 17:24-28)
Four weeks ago Ed and I found out we had Covid 19. We were two weeks into it on a beautiful, clear, crisp fall morning when I found myself looking upward towards heaven and some things came into very clear focus – the biggest thing being God’s continued grace, mercy and presence in our lives.
Recently I found myself crying out to the Lord with a list of questions. What is happening? What is going on? What am I to be doing?
To declare something is to openly align oneself with a person or thing. To announce one’s intentions or identity. It is about acknowledging possession of and expressing love for.
As you know from the last two blogs, Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego, along with many others, found themselves exiled some 900 miles away from home, family, and their spiritual heritage. They were thrown into a three-year Babylonian indoctrination program. The purpose of the indoctrination was to teach them how to think, act, and live like Babylonians. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego were, however, unwavering and undaunted by the evil around them.
After reading and re-reading the book of Daniel and thinking about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and their lives, I am awestruck by the relevance this book in God’s Word has for us today.
Daniel’s life and the God he served were in direct conflict with the government and rulers he found his life subject to.
An earthquake shakes the foundation of our security; a tornado blows away a lifetime of treasures; an assassin’s bullet changes national history; a drunk driver claims an innocent victim; a divorce shatters a home. International and personal tragedies make our world seem a fearful place, overflowing with evil and seemingly out of control. And the litany of bombings, coups, murders, and natural disasters could cause us to think that God is absent or impotent. ‘Where is God?’ we cry, engulfed by sorrow and despair.
Recently I heard several college-age young people being interviewed. They were asked to share what they knew about 9/11 (2001). Their comments were shocking to me! In summarizing those comments, it boiled down to this, “No, I do not know much about 9/11, but why remember the past? We need to move on!”
Paul declared: “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He came to grips with his own mortality.
Recently I heard a journalist state that the fear and actions of Covid have been about man dealing with his mortality.
On Wednesday I finished this blog, and that morning my husband went to his post-op doctor appointment for his knee replacement surgery that he had six weeks ago. Struggling with pain, he had a lot of questions for the doctor and was reassured he was well on the road to a good recovery! That same day our youngest grandson wrote this letter to God:
Remember the words to the hymn, The Solid Rock?
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand: All other ground is sinking sand.
What is your hope based upon?
Every night before going to bed I listen to God’s Word being read to me from the Ezra Project! Recently it has been from the book of Job. Job lived in the land of Uz, between 2000-1800 B.C., which was located near the desert land between Damascus and the Euphrates. Job was quite wealthy. He had thousands of sheep, camels, and other livestock. His family was large and influential. Job 1:3 tells us he was the greatest man among all the people of the east.
Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:12-15)
In my last blog I talked about the things we can change and the things we cannot change. A list started forming on paper to what I can fix and what I cannot fix. Fixing something is about directing one’s eyes, attention, or mind steadily or unwaveringly toward something. It is about settling on a course of action and doing what is necessary to accomplish that action.
Recognizing what we can change and what we cannot change is often a real struggle.
I am a fixer – wanting everyone and everything to be okay, but as we all know that will never happen this side of heaven.
My father had beautiful handwriting. Growing up I desired to write just like him. I practiced and practiced trying to perfect my letters with precision and accuracy. There is just something about beautiful handwriting that speaks to my heart and leaves a lasting impression! Receiving a letter or card from a friend who does calligraphy captivates my attention. I know each word was written with love and care, causing me to linger and admire.
Recently my husband and I bought an old metal gate to put in our garden. It got me to thinking about the importance of gates and their function.
Most of the world lives in a constant state of war and unrest, and more and more we see that becoming true of the U.S.
If we were to be truly honest, 2020 seemed to bring the “ME” out in our individual lives, our country, and the world. As of today, May 26, 2021, the “ME” is growing exponentially Bigger and BIGGER.
How did we get here?
Set free from death, sin, self, hate, guilt, shame, fear, Covid, cancer, Satan’s condemnation, and all manner of evil!
Birthdays are usually special occasions in our lives. They are benchmarks that define us. Some birthdays we accept with joy and excitement, while others are hard, unmemorable, and maybe even forgettable.
My “birth” day took place on a miserably hot summer day in a hospital without air conditioning! My mom had a tremendously hard time having me, as I weighed 9 lbs. 13 oz. and was 21 inches long. My dad thought I looked like a football player! I managed to arrive in this world like most, with a cry and a joyous sigh from my mom!
This last year has found me going through closets, drawers, cupboards and the garage determining what to keep and what to eliminate. I formed some criteria to help in the process:
1. Is it useful?
2. Do I really need it?
3. Is it of value to me or someone else?
While focusing on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection this week, I found myself being drawn to the life of Mary of Bethany. You know her as Lazarus and Martha’s sister. All three of them loved Jesus and desired to be with Him and serve Him. So much had transpired in those few weeks before the crucifixion: Lazarus had been raised from the dead, the plot to kill Jesus had thickened, and the Pharisees and High Priests were in hot pursuit of seizing the claimed “King of the Jews.”
While reading Romans chapter 12 recently, an old saying kept popping into my mind:
“Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.”
While in the Word this last week, two words kept popping up on my radar: “guide” and “shepherd.” It caused me to think about the importance of guides in our lives. A guide is one who advises, provides information, and direction.
Kathy Niswender is the wife of our pastor.