Saturday, May 30, 2015

Got Hope?


got hope?
Hope waits.
Hope trusts.
Hope anticipates.
Hope longs and expects.
Hope is unseen.
Have you ever prepared something you couldn’t wait to deliver?  You lovingly create this special item and then rehearse every scenario of the moment it is received.  But when the time comes, things don’t go as planned.  Somehow the delivery was bungled. The timing skewed. The reception less than perfect. What happened?  Nothing went as you had imagined. Now you’re left with great disappointment; dreams deflating like a leaky balloon. All your hopes, poof – gone in an instant.

Aww, such is life, my mother would say. But why?

Is it because we are temporal and our life, in its best state is but a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away?[1]

Is it because we live in a sin-cursed world where everything groans, awaiting the revealing of the sons and daughters of God?[2]

Possibly. But thankfully, we cannot see the future.  If we could, chances are we would not have even tried. We never would have begun the task of creating our special item, let alone try to deliver it.  On the other hand, what is the line in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem? “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

Yet, it doesn’t feel better during the emotional pain of heartbreak. Nor does it feel like we should have created a special item when our dreams are dashed.

Nevertheless, we are more loving, because we loved and we’re stronger, because we tried. So, it’s much better to try a special task and fail at the delivery, than to have never tried at all – right?

If you say no, then answer this:  Even though our item was not as well received as we would have liked, does this mean it was not worth doing? Maybe for the moment our hopes and dreams disappeared, but should we quit trying altogether?

No, on both accounts. We learn from our mistakes. We apologize, make corrections, change our approach, and we know in our heart the next time things will go better. This, my friends, is hope.

Hope is to desire with expectation of obtainment[3] and God created us with hope. Yet hope in the physical is fleeting and finite. When life is over, so too, our hope. Unless, we believe in Jesus Christ.  Then hope extends beyond life. It is eternal because Jesus is eternal and He is our Hope.

Most humans do hope for something beyond physical life, but without Christ, their hope is misplaced. Still, they hope just the same, for God set eternity in the heart of man. And because He did, believers are given an open door that no man can shut. So, take the time to walk through it. Share the gospel. Don’t worry about delivery, timing, or failure. That’s God’s job.

Then wait for the seed to take root. Trust it will grow and bear fruit. Anticipate, long and expect God to finish the good work He started. And all you who hope in the Lord, continue in faith and be of good courage for He, who loves you with an everlasting love, shall strengthen your heart.[4]




[1] James 4:14
[2] Romans 8:19-25
[3] Merriam-Webster Dictionary
[4] Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 31:24

Saturday, April 4, 2015

By The Blood Of The Lamb - A Story for Passover - continued


www.lambsblog.com
    As morning sun lasered through the stitched seams of Nahshon’s tent onto my eyelids, I realized I’d slept way passed dawn. I tried to get up, but since my circumcision, every move caused excruciating pain. With gritted teeth, I stood to my feet and peeked through the door flap. Our chosen lamb leaped and baaed in joyful play with Nahshon’s giggling children. Tonight I would have the privilege of celebrating Passover with my new friends. In these four days, I too had become very fond of the soft little lamb and it had become his children’s pet. Surely Nahshon would not sacrifice this lamb now when he could just as easily choose another.

     I scarfed down the manna cakes left for my breakfast and went in search of Ithamar. As I drew closer to the Tabernacle, the curtained structure that seemed so ominous a few days ago, I heard Eleazar’s voice. Just outside the east-facing tapestry gate, he and Ithamar were instructing the priest trainees and Levites.

     “In the past,” Eleazar explained, “Our twilight Passover sacrifices were unorganized. But this year, Ithamar and I are determined to perform them in a more efficient manner.”

     “This where you come in,” Ithamar interjected, spotting me as I strolled into view. “Ah, here is our new proselyte. Meet Oreb, the Midianite.”

     Although I was already acquainted with some, they did not know I was a Midianite. I saw fear in their eyes. My people had played a sad part in seducing Israel with Baal of Peor and because of this, God sent a plague. Twenty-four thousand Israelites died until Phinehas, Eleazar’s son, grandson of Aaron the priest, zealously turned back the wrath of God.

     “I have come in peace.” I said, trying to calm them. “I believe your God is the true God and I want to know Him as you do. My traveling companions returned home when faced with circumcision. Meeting God was my quest, not theirs. But they mean you no harm nor do I.”

     With tension eased and priestly instruction concluded, we returned to Nahshon’s tent and my lessons. For two days Ithamar taught about God’s miracles, why Israel is forced to wander in this wilderness, and the glorious day God spoke from the mountain. However today I would hear more of Passover; how Ithamar believes this sacrifice points to something greater, yet that meaning has eluded him.

     My ears heard nothing but Ithamar, not even the children when they scurried into the tent after the lamb. Nor did I hear their mother’s scolding.

     As Ithamar departed, Nahshon arrived and announced, “It’s time.”

     Like taking a cue from a director, the children shouted in unison, “No Papa.”

     Salmon clung to the little lamb and sobbed. Some ran to their mother in tears and the two youngest sat on Papa’s feet trying to hold him back.

     Heartbroken, I blocked Nahshon and attempted to reason with him. “Maybe just this once you choose another. What would be the harm?”

     When he raised his head, I saw agony in his eyes. “Do you think this is easy?” He whispered. “It’s the hardest thing I have to do. I don’t want to hurt my children. Nevertheless it’s God’s Law and it is much easier to sacrifice a lamb than my son.” Nahshon gently removed the children from his feet, detached Salmon’s arms, and lifted the lamb. Caressing the tiny creature, he continued, “Those were the choices Egypt and Israel faced. I was firstborn. The blood of a lamb saved me.”

     Then, like a jolt of lightning I understood. This precious lamb is our innocent substitute. It dies in our place. Someday God will send the greater lamb and these painful sacrifices will cease. But until then, we sacrifice, because our salvation is paid by the blood of the lamb.
www.word8life.wordpress.com

     “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…He was buried, and…He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures...”              
(I Cor. 5:7, I Cor. 15:3-4).


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

By The Blood Of The Lamb: A Story for Passover


     Intense forceful wind swept the floor of the desert hurling bits of sand that stung our faces. Yet, with feet feeling of lead, we trudged toward the sea of tents.

     The encampment seemed deserted, but muffled voices filtered through the walls of each tent. Clearly, the brief sandstorm had forced the inhabitants to remain sheltered.

     Determined to reach the odd rectangular-shaped structure in the midst of the camp, we wove our way through crude walkways while our shadows, splashed against the tents, made known our presence. By the time we reached our destination, whipping sand had given way to searing heat and Nahshon, son of Amminadab, leader of the children of Judah blocked our way.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love, A Many Splendored Thing

Snowflakes floated silently from the dark night sky while two lovers strolled, hand in hand, down the moonlit street. Reaching the door, their hearts wrenched knowing one would enter and one must leave. A good-bye kiss and adoring embrace made them yearn for another and then another. Through rose-colored glasses, they viewed life and dreamed of the day they would never part.

Ah love, in the beginning of a relationship, it saturates our whole body and we feel as though we’re walking three feet off the ground. Every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of our beloved and our nighttime dreams enhance passion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How Long, O Lord?


2015 started off well, but seven days into this New Year, extreme violence hit.

In our shrinking world of high technology, the massacre in Paris almost feels like it happened here. Through the media, we see the faces of those Parisians who had their loved ones mercilessly cut down and our hearts are touched. From a distance, we groan with righteous indignation and mourn with them, because we know how it feels to have senseless acts of violence perpetrated against us. We remember the horror of 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and others that fuel an ever-present fear of terrorism. Still, even without foreign influence, our country has seen escalating violence. Anger spewing out in riots, looting, and destruction over court verdicts and vicious, irrational school shootings. It’s as if violence stepped from the movie screen and made its home in our everyday life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What Can I Give?


“What can I give Him?” For days, these words have been roaming around in my head along with the rest of the line, “give Him my heart.” They were driving me crazy, because I couldn’t remember from where they came, so I had to do some research.

What I found surprised me. These words are in the last stanza of a poem written by Christina Georgina Rossetti, born December 5, 1830. Historians are not sure when Miss Rossetti penned them, but believe it was before 1872.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Wonder of The Incarnation


www.telegraph.co.uk
The countdown continues and we find ourselves rushing toward our Christmas Day finale. But, has the busyness of Christmas kept you from truly experiencing the wonder of the Incarnation – Emmanuel – God with us?

I know it’s difficult with all the shopping, baking, cleaning, and decorating, to stay focused on this amazing truth. So, let’s take a few minutes, right now, to reflect on this glorious wonder.

Incarnation, it’s such a complex word. Nevertheless, it speaks of the moment God, who is Spirit, stepped from eternity into time, into our world, becoming one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. He did this to pay the death penalty for humanity’s sin, because of His great love.