I Saw You

Posted by admin on April 2, 2014 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

363We continue the Journey Through John.  For previous meditations on John chapter 1, scroll down to earlier articles.

Read JOHN 1:43-51

Once in a while we hear that some infamous person has “found God.”  We rejoice, for it is true–God can save anyone, just as He saved us from our depravity.  But later, we may hear that the penitent has returned to his old ways.  “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” (Proverbs 26:11) Perhaps the end of that person is worse than the beginning.  (Matthew 12:43-45)

Not so for those who are truly repentant, called of God, chosen before the foundation of the world!  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)  However much we may despair over our own repetitive sins, we know the Lord is at work in our lives.  We did not find God without His leading or choose Him without His invitation, but He found and chose us.  Now it is our responsibility to respond and follow Him, as an obedient child.  “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God who is working in you, enabling you, both to will and to act for His good purpose.”  (Philippians 2:12b-13)

Jesus found His disciples in the middle of their ordinary lives, fishing, collecting taxes, sitting under fig trees.  But He had already prepared their hearts to recognize Him.  So when Andrew found his brother Simon, he exclaimed, “We have found the Messiah!”   Then Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law . . . Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!” (John 1:40-45)

We can almost hear Nathanael’s scoff.  The Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem! (Micah 5:2) “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael exclaimed.  But at Philip’s urging, he got up to find out.

“Then Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said about him, ‘Here is a true Israelite; no deceit is in him.'” (vs.47)

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. (vs.48)

“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Jesus replied.

Astonished that Jesus could see him from afar, Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!” (vs. 49)

What a wonderful story this is!  The Lord sees us where we are, while we are unaware, in our sins and disbelief, and chooses us.  We may think we are doing good works, we may be zealous for our beliefs, we may be religious.  We go about our business like Saul of Tarsus, until the Lord stops us in our tracks.  (Acts 9)  He calls us to repent and follow Him.

I have spent so much time sitting under the “fig trees” or circumstances of life, sitting in shadows, lingering in disbelief.  But Lord, You see me, just like Nathanael the doubter or Jonah the pouter under his plant.

Heavenly Father, thank You for always seeing me,  from  the moment of conception to my last breath on earth.  You see all I am, think, and do.  You see me in my disbelief  and discontent– and You still love me!  Give me the faith to recognize You at work in my life,  for You are the Living God, the One who sees me.  Be King of my heart and mind, and help me follow You in joyful obedience and contentment.  Thank You for seeing me and my needs today.   In Jesus’ gracious name  I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Is Love–Rejoice!

Posted by admin on March 30, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

 

 

 God proves His loves for us

in that while we were still sinners

Christ died for us!   

Romans 5:8

God is love. . .  

God sent His one and only Son

into the world

so that we might live through Him.   

                                                                                                                             I John 4:8-9

 

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

You created us to be Your children.

We rebelled and ran away from You.

But You came in flesh to save us,

And on the Cross forgave us.

Now, no matter what, I know it’s true:  You love me!

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

Now I have the joy of my salvation;

Your Spirit’s with me everywhere I go.

And I can trust You, Jesus;

You are the One who frees us.

You changed my heart,  You changed my life.

You healed my very soul–forever!

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

In this world we have sorrow

While sin is on the throne.

But we wait for that tomorrow

When You’ll come to take us home.

And in Your perfect timing, by Your perfect plan,

You’ll descend in clouds of glory,

And Earth rejoice again, in You, Lord!

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

 

 

Words and music by Lela Satterfield.  Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved.

Dearly, Dearly He Has Loved

Posted by admin on March 28, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

A Green Hill Far Away

Yellow, pink, mint green, and robin’s-egg blue–in popular culture those are the colors of Easter, the colors of bunnies, chicks, lilies and eggs!

But in my mind the colors of Good Friday and Easter cry out–the  stones stained with scarlet streaks of blood, the mournful gray sky, the rough wooden cross black with blood and dust, and Jesus’ ashen bodied carried to the tomb. 

When the earth quaked Sunday morning, the dawn was shrouded in grief.  But an angel of the Lord descended like  lightning and rolled away the stone, exposing the empty grave.   On cue, the sun leaped up rejoicing.  Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth, had risen from the dead!  (Matthew 28:2-7)

I recall the shadows of one Good Friday service:  No candles lit the altar or illumined the stained-glass windows.  I walked in procession with the other children toward the cross, draped in black.   Solemn and pale in our little white robes, we sang shrilly:

      There is a green hill far away,

      Without a city wall,

      Where the dear Lord was crucified,

      Who died to save us all.

      There was no other good enough

      To pay the price of sin.

      He only could unlock the gate

      Of Heaven and let us in.

Then the earnest refrain:

     Oh, dearly, dearly, He has loved,

     And we must love Him too,

     And trust in His redeeming blood,

     And try His works to do.*

The Holy Spirit burned that stark message into my soul as I sang.   A few weeks later, I kneeled down to ask God to forgive my sins and make me His child.  “Help me live for You,” I whispered.

Now from the other side of life, I thank God for answering that prayer. 

The Father-Artist who splashes rainbows across stormy skies and buries the sun in fiery seas is passionate toward me and all creation.   He is faithful and purposeful; He will not be thwarted.   He will not surrender His creation to chaos and despair.  He is working out His divine plan.  In His good time,  He will reign in the glory of the new heavens and the new earth, forever and ever.

We cannot yet see this masterpiece; the canvas stretches from infinity to infinity.  But in the center is one iconic scene: a hill far away, stained with blood, crowned with a cross–and an empty tomb nearby.

“They brought Jesus to the place called Golgatha (which means Skull Place).  Then they crucified Him.” (Mark 15:22,24) 

 

 

*  “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” by Cecil F. Alexander and George C. Stebbins

Praying for 50

Posted by admin on May 31, 2011 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

We did not have a Cinderella courtship. 

 As a college freshman in the hippie era, I ogled all the boys with long hair.  But Bob, fresh from the military, still wore his blond crew cut “high and tight.”  I was 17;  he was 24.  He had a Southern accent and befriended everyone.  It was embarrassing.

Before our engagement, he broke my heart twice.  Once as we argued in the car I forgot the campus curfew (11 p.m. for girls only).  No doubt  my scandalized friends thought we were busy “parking” in the fogged-up Rambler; one of them materialized at the window screeching, “You’re in big trouble!”

Whenever I have really been determined in prayer,  I kneeled down.   As an eight-year-old I kneeled down to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and make me His child.  Before college  I kneeled down to pray for a husband who would be a preacher.  

On a Baptist campus overrun with would-be reverends toting family-sized Bibles, that seemed a reasonable request.  But I had been dating only redheads, so the prospects were limited.

Nevertheless, by God’s providence, my future husband and I enrolled in two or three classes together and met on the church bus.  Our first date was the evening service.  By the end of the day I knew he was “the one.”  I knew this because I clearly heard God say three words in my head, “He’s the one.” 

I’d never heard God speak in my head before, but I had the audacity to shoot back, “You’re kidding!”

He wasn’t kidding, and I have been married nearly 43 years to prove it!   God picked the very best husband for me I could ever have. 

I had been a Cinderella girl for sure, growing up without parents.  Prince Charming and I hauled a load of emotional baggage to the marriage.  But “love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).  Love,  God Himself, made us one flesh and one in spirit.  We made a lifelong commitment not just to each other but to the King of the Universe.       

We loved each other when the only way to communicate was  the MARS line on a Navy ship:  “I love you, OVER.” 

We loved each other when we stomped into a Christian marriage counselor’s office, angry and depressed but never giving up. 

We loved each other when we prayed earnestly that our kids would not self-destruct on the voyage to maturity. 

We loved each other when the surgeon gazed compassionately at me and uttered words I never wanted to hear: “You have cancer.”

I understand why some folks draw up prenuptial agreements–they fear that love will die.  This is a reasonable fear, considering our sinful natures. Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of evangelist Billy Graham, was once asked if she had ever considered divorce.  “Divorce, no,” she replied.  “Murder, yes!”  It is not easy to love selflessly–it is humanly impossible.  Indeed, we cannot expect any other human to meet all our needs.  Only in the Lord do we find an inexhaustible fountain of love and forgiveness. 

In Christ,  we can be angry and sin not.  We can speak the truth in love.   We  can seek wise counsel.  We can respect each other’s boundaries and encourage each other’s gifts.  We can forgive as the Lord forgives us.  Jesus knows what it is like to be ignored,  rejected, abandoned, and betrayed by those He loves.   He endured the unfaithfulness of men to show the forgiveness of God.  He gave up everything to say, “I love you.” 

My husband and I look at each other’s graying heads and thank God daily for our marriage, imperfect as it is.  We know that some day one of us will be called first to Heaven, and no MARS line or Internet will connect us any more.  But the love of God is the tie that binds us, a link that cannot be broken.   In that far country every love that is of God will be perfected and pure.   We will always be in Love.  As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, we will no longer be motivated by any need-love but will love truly, as we are loved by God.

When I was growing up, no one ever said, “I love you.”  Now my husband and I say it over and over every day: “I love you.”  It costs nothing yet costs everything.  But it keeps the heart soft.  

John admonishes us, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God . . . For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  (I John 4:7a,20b HCSB)

Thank You, Heavenly Father,  for those You have given me to love. Give me a tender heart toward my husband,  family and friends to let Your love flow through me.  In loving them, may I learn to love You more and more, as You deserve.  Not for my glory but for the glory of Your name, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

This is the love of God–that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)

A song of Love  

      1. The Cross On Jesus' Back