Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rise... and Walk

There he lay… the epitome of weakness and misery… waiting with many others for the fleeting moment when freedom could be theirs.  He lifted his head every now and then to gaze pensively at the still waters of the pool, hoping against hope that the next time those waters rippled in that strange fashion he could somehow reach them first.  But alas, the object of his hope and effort only drained the last dregs of his strength, and there he lay still... a prisoner of circumstances.  Ever hoping, ever wishing, ever trying, yet ever a prisoner.

But then the words… “Wilt thou be made whole?”  The face bending over him that emanated deep compassion ignited new hope in his heart.  Made whole?  Made whole…  Oh the joyous thought!    But all at once the countless unsuccessful attempts to reach the healing waters flashed before him, and he reminds the Stranger pragmatically that it is not realistically possible.

But the Man standing over him holds the power to make what is not practically possible Divinely possible, when coupled with human effort.  He speaks again.  “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”

A simple command.

He didn’t even say, “if you have the faith of a mustard seed...”  

Just a simple instruction.

And nothing happened when Jesus spoke those words.  He was still a paralytic.  But the Lord had spoken.  And those words had the power to completely change his life… if he would act upon them by faith.  As he lay there in utter weakness, he decided to obey.  And the very instant human will commanded human weakness to obey the voice of God, those motionless limbs thrilled with new strength, and he found himself a healed man.

So many times we are like that poor paralytic. Ever hoping, ever wishing, ever trying, yet ever a prisoner of circumstances.  We wait for conditions to “get better.”  We pine.  But our Heavenly Father is a wise father, and He will not do for us what we can do for ourselves.  Not that all the human effort in the world can accomplish anything but disaster, but when in faith human effort merges with Divine power, miracles happen.  And Jesus is as ready now to work miracles as He was when He walked this earth.

So friend, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Jesus has spoken, and there is no need for delay.  “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”

“My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  *  

* 2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Sacrifice... and His

Ok, so this may be a little different, but I am sold on finishing showers with cold water.
It's great for getting lazy blood flowing, and for boosting the immune system, they say.  (Not convinced? Try it sometime. It pays, I promise.)  I must admit though that the experience is not always the most enjoyable, and it requires some determination to turn off that hot water.  As I was enduring my invigorating ritual the other day, this thought struck me.   "Strange… Why do we cringe to experience discomfort now when we know we will benefit later, yet so readily indulge in things that we know will cause pain later?"  Instantly my mind began to churn, and the following are the results of my musings...

Think of the sins that Satan pulls this creation into.  Every single one of them offer pleasure for the present, but deliver regret, pain, and sorrow afterwards.  Indulge now, pay later. (Sound familiar?)

Now think of worthy goals or aspirations.  Every one requires sacrifice… Sacrifice of comfort, of convenience, of self.  Discipline.  Patience.  But true satisfaction is the sure result.

The truth is, human nature does not like sacrifice.  We cringe.  We vacillate. We consider giving up because it's just "too hard."  Could it be that the enemy has fooled us into weighing the price against our feelings, rather than the reward?  Maybe that is why in the Bible and in our daily experiences we see so many examples of the principle of suffering first, enduring reward later.* It may be God's antidote for our malady.  

“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  I Corinthians 9:25-27
Just to set this straight, running this race is not all about a golden crown and a mansion.  If it is, the counterfeits of this world will sooner be the objects of our devotion.

It takes love... Love stronger than temptation... Love stronger than death.

The love that spent thirty-three years practicing this principle that I am talking about so that he could sacrifice his very life.

The love that in dark Gethsemane chose to forgo life, the universe, His Father... for oblivion,

So that all we have to sacrifice is the things that will pass away... for eternal paradise.

What is my sacrifice?  I am shaken, I am ashamed. Lord, let me mingle my tears with Yours, and my sweat drops with Your bloody ones.  Heaven is cheap enough.

“Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live…For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:12,13,18

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1,2

*Read Desire of Ages p.148.3

Friday, March 23, 2012


Something that is standing out in my mind like the morning star in the twilight sky...

God always gives us the best

When we give Him the choice.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Highest Honor

Living in an obscure village, toiling in the carpentry shop, mitering corners, sanding boards, walking to the synagogue every Sabbath...think of it... for thirty years.  Every duty performed perfectly and faithfully no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

The Man that would calm the sea and heal the sick, cleanse the lepers and raise the dead.

God on earth.

His family did not understand Him, His friends forsook Him,  and the leaders of the nation dogged His steps, waiting for a chance to snuff out His life... until they did.   

The Lamb of God.

He was by far the greatest human being to ever live on our planet, right?  However, if you think you will gain recognition and honor in this world by following in His footsteps, think twice.

Because "the servant is not greater than his lord."     


If we suffer with Him, "we shall also reign with Him."

And "of all the gifts that heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is  
the most weighty trust and the highest honor." *
the highest honor
*The Desire of Ages p. 224

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Investing in Eternity

Flipping randomly  through my Bible the other day,  I came across Isaiah 55.  (I love that chapter.)  The focus of the first couple of verses is invitation.  But somehow verse two struck me in an unusual way this time...

"Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?  and your labor for that which satisfieth not?  hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."

It really made me think.
There are only so many hours in the day, only so many days in a life, and only so much time left for this world.
I don't know when I may be laughing one moment, and dead the next.
I don't know when I will have to stand before the Lord to give account for what He has left in my care.

Every day, God is teaching me what is really important in life.  And I am realizing more and more that time, energy, money, life, are precious gifts.  God gives us freedom of choice to decide what we will do with those gifts.

I can choose to expend my time, energy and money on self-serving,  but in the end I will have nothing to show for my effort but a charge of robbery.

And the things we thought were so important here, will appear as they really are... vanity.

There are only two things that we will carry out of this world... People, and our characters.

That's all that really matters.

And am I glad... :)

Let's invest in both.  Let's invest in eternity.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Planning God's Plans?

I learn more and more every day,  while at the same time I seem to know less and less.  That is because God has a way of showing me that His wisdom is infinitely greater than my own.  It only makes sense... He's my Creator, and I'm His child.

If you are like me, you have made it a habit to pray for God's wisdom,  His guidance, His will to be done.  That's a good thing.  But I hope that while you pray for God's plan,  you don't also plan His answer... like I have found myself doing sometimes.

It's hard to take when the answer from the heavens is "No" when we want "Yes,"  "Go here" when we want to go there, "Wait" when we want to act now.  And friends, if we're really in tune, we'll know what God is telling us.  Sometimes there is no answer at all right away,  but that doesn't mean our prayer isn't heard.  Even Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks one time before he received an answer.*  There are so many things that we are not aware of, that we don't understand.  If we are living in harmony with Him, there's one thing we can be sure of... God never misses messages in His inbox.

So when we get an answer we don't want to hear, what will we do?  Fallen human nature likes to just ignore it and pretend like nothing happened.  Maybe we'll get our way after all if we don't count it as well... counting.

Yes,  we can take care of things that way.  But we might as well quit praying.  We might as well plan on getting along on our own smarts.  What a scary thought...

I can tell you from my own personal experience that God is infinitely wiser than I am.  And  not only that,  He loves me and cares about every detail of my life infinitely more than I am capable of comprehending.  When I look in the rear view mirror at what God has done,  I can see that He really does have everything under control.  Sometimes even what seem to be disasters prove later to be the working of miracles.  And why did I ever worry? (That's another lesson.)

Stopped at a traffic light,  I once saw a bumper sticker that read, "Jesus Is My Co-Pilot."  I smiled at the irony of it.  I'm quite certain I'd rather have Him be the Pilot... I'll be the passenger.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

*See Daniel 10, Prophets and Kings p. 571,  The Sanctified Life p. 51

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sweet Hour of Prayer

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…”  
Every time I hear these words, a song begins to play in my mind that was indelibly engraved there at the age of five when I learned Psalm 91 put to music.  
“...I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress:  My God; in Him will I trust.'"  

Psalm 91 has been a nearly life-long source of promises to claim. 
But the first words… I pause on them for the first time.  Realization replaces vague awareness. 
How did I ever miss it?

"He that dwelleth in the secret place…” 
The condition... that goes with the promise.  

So the "secret place"... That was the place our Savior resorted to frequently.
Dwelling… That’s residing, inhabiting, living.  Not visiting occasionally, or when badly needed.  
My mind runs rapidly along the words... There it is again--the condition echoed.

"Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation."

And again.

"Because he hath known my name." 

I think it's the most beautiful condition I've ever read.  If we will live in continual communion with God, living a lifestyle of connectedness with the Divine,  learning to know Him, He will do for us everything that He says will do in that chapter.

"No other life was ever so crowded with labor and responsibility as was that of Jesus; yet how often He was found in prayer! How constant was His communion with God! Again and again in the history of His earthly life are found records such as these: “Rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  “Great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” “And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Mark 1:35; Luke 5:15, 16; 6:12.
    “As one with us, a sharer in our needs and weaknesses, He was wholly dependent upon God, and in the secret place of prayer He sought divine strength, that He might go forth braced for duty and trial." Desire of Ages p. 362

Get this one...

"As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity.  Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world.  His experience is to be ours."  Desire of Ages p. 363

I want that experience. I want it...  I have a had a taste, but I want more.

And, imagine, if we could all find that secret place,

We could turn this world upside-down.*

*Great Controversy p. 210.1