Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded sick and sore.

Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity love and pow’r.

I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms.

In the arms of my dear Savior, O, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome. God’s free bounty glorify;

True belief and true repentance, every grace that brings you nigh.

Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream.

All the fitness He requireth is to find your need of Him.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall.

If you tarry till you’re better; You will never come at all.

(by Joseph Hart 1759)

I should have included this song in my last post.  When my voice returns I will try and record an audio version to be added here.  There is a modern/new tune, but I prefer the old one.

 

If the Cure Won’t Kill You…

I’ve been struggling the last few weeks. It started as a cold that wouldn’t go away and when the coughing overstayed its welcome I took myself to the doctor. Bronchitis was diagnosed and antibiotics were prescribed. I thought that was that and dutifully took my medicine and proceeded on my way.  A couple weeks later my cough was sneaking back and there was no more medicine to take. I called the doctor’s office and they prescribed something stronger.  It remains to be seen if this medicine will be effective, but I got a bit of a shock when I read through the three pages of warnings and possible side effects. I suddenly was afraid I would die in my sleep,  if I could get to sleep.

But my biggest problem isn’t bronchitis. My biggest problem is sin. Like the paralytic in Mark 2 whose friends bring him to Jesus, tearing up the roof to get him there, Jesus first words to him were…”Your sins are forgiven”. It wasn’t that Jesus was overlooking the obvious (his physical condition). It was that Jesus saw his most pressing need as the need of his soul, the need to have his sins forgiven. The man didn’t get his life cleaned up before he came. He came sick and helpless. Jesus knew his most pressing need was his soul and almost as an afterthought he heals his body as well.

And so as I wait for the bronchitis cure to take effect I have to think of a more effective cure that has already been applied, one of eternal value. I can’t earn or work for it. I don’t deserve this cure and yet it is freely offered to me and to anyone who will apply the finished work of Christ to his life. Jesus did what I couldn’t. He died so I wouldn’t have to. He gave up His inheritance so I could inherit. How could I help but love such a God.

I Need to See Something Good

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Show me something good… I need to see something good…

There are times in my life when I am surrounded by trouble. Deep discouragement overwhelms me. I find myself crying out to God…Show me something good…I need to see something good.

God in His mercy shows me good things. Things I have overlooked. Things I can’t see through the clouds that surrounded me. He shows me how He is working, unseen.

Lately I was reading about Thomas. He has gotten the unfortunate nickname of “Doubting Thomas”. (I shudder to think what my nickname would be if I was mentioned in the Bible.)

Thomas had been handpicked by Christ to be one of His disciples. He had spent more than three years walking the countryside, listening to, and working beside Him. He had left all to follow Jesus.

Now Jesus was dead and Thomas had given up hope. They all had. He was so discouraged that when reports started coming in that Jesus was alive, he couldn’t believe it. It was better not to get his hopes up. He didn’t dare believe it was true. It hurt too much.

When his fellow disciples tried to tell him they had seen the Lord he responded with…”Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

It wasn’t really a prayer, and yet it was. A desperate prayer to a God who had gone missing.

Eight days later when the disciples were together in a “locked” room Jesus suddenly appeared. After greeting them with, “Peace be with you.” He turned His gentle attention to Thomas.

“Reach here your finger, and see My hands, and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27)

Thomas’ immediate response was, “My Lord and my God!”

The relief must have been immense. What he didn’t dare hope for was true. His Lord was alive. His God wasn’t missing after all.

What came next must have broken his heart. “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29)

It breaks my heart as well. When I fail to believe because things are dark, when I ask to see good when I am discouraged… God is gracious, but He must long for me to trust Him in the dark. He must long for me to know that He is good even in the midst of trouble.

Teach us to Number our Days

January is more than half over and I am still contemplating what my goals should be for the new year. I attended too many funerals last year. There were at least half a dozen. January brought even more. It is a sad reminder that life is fleeting.

I have been settling in for the long haul and God reminds me that this life is just temporary. Heaven is waiting. This life that I cling to so fiercely will be but a flash when I am finally home with Him.

So what are my marching orders as I live day to day here? My husband pointed out to me the most mentioned command in the Bible. I was sure it was something about loving God and our neighbor. Ready?…

“Do not be afraid”  or “Do not fear”

God said it again and again. He said it to Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, Moses, the nation of Israel. He said it to Hagar, a slave girl, who was afraid her son was going to die of thirst in the desert.

The Psalms are full of the command.

Psalm 23:4 “…I fear no evil, for You are with me.”

Many of the prophets said it multiple times. (Isaiah 35:4; 41:10; 41:13)

God sent angels to give the message to Daniel, Zecharias, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, women at the tomb.

Jesus also repeated it often to his disciples. Reminding them that they were worth more than the sparrows. (Matt. 10:31)

The command applies to me as well. “Do not fear!”  – Why? Because I have a God who is with me and guiding my steps.

He doesn’t promise that my path will be easy. There will still be trouble and funerals and dark days, but He is with me.  …and someday there will be no more crying. There will be no more sin. There will be no more fear.

For now I need to trust him with today. I need to have courage that he will provide the strength for what he has called me to do. I need to believe that this God, who cannot lie, will do more than I can ask or think. Knowing that this troubled life is but an instant compared to eternity.

 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Say to those with anxious heart, Take courage, fear not…” Isaiah 35:4

“For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

The trouble with Santa

“You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Clause is coming to town. He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out whose naughty and nice…He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”

Santa, the all-seeing god-like character we see so much of this time of year. Unfortunately some people get their view of God from Santa. He is a pale comparison. Here are some important differences.

We are told Santa keeps track and will only bring presents to the good. Contrast that to “…You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” God sending the gift of His son didn’t depend on us being good, but was sent because we were sinners. Good people don’t need a Savior. Sinners need a Savior.

Santa’s list keeping implies that he will not deliver gifts intended for us if we are naughty. Romans 11:29 tells us “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” God’s gift of salvation isn’t taken back if we are unworthy. Truth be told we are all unworthy. Again, that was the point of God sending His son.

Santa shows love to those who show themselves to be good. God loves those who understand that it depends not on their own goodness, but on God’s grace. II Timothy 1:9 says “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,”

Santa visits one day a year…while we are sleeping, just long enough to leave a pile of presents.

Jesus came to be with us. His name Immanuel means “God with us.” The most important gift we can get is His presence, not his presents. Things get old and wear out. They lose their appeal, but the very real presence of God Himself is a gift beyond compare.

So what is our response? The wisemen had the right idea. They journeyed to a foreign country to find this king and when they found him…”They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Upon meeting the child they “fell down and worshiped him.” They didn’t come expecting to receive, but to offer what they had. So we too can offer what we have. A heart yearning to know this God who stoops down to be with us.

Praying you each find the peace only God can give in this troubled world.

…a Time to Laugh

“For everything there is a season…a time to weep and a time to laugh.” Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 4a ESV

My father was an honest man. He took great pains to do the right thing, say the right thing. He avoided anything that looked bad. When we went in a store he would remind us not to touch anything we weren’t going to buy.

He also loved to laugh. He loved to hear and tell jokes as long as they were clean. He was a little challenged as far as telling jokes. His timing was often a little off. Sometimes he missed the punchline or told the punchline before he had told some crucial information. When we would pause and say… “I don’t get it.” He would start again, inserting the forgotten part and wait for us to laugh, but the moment was gone. It wasn’t funny anymore. I think that is partly why puns became his favorite humor. It is pretty hard to mess up a pun.

One day when I was about 8 my Dad and I were in the local Woolworth’s dime store. I asked if we could go down the toy aisle and he agreed. We had spent a few minutes looking over the selection when we came across a small white drawstring bag with the words “Laughing Bag” printed in big black letters. He wondered out loud what it could be and reached out his hand. Something was triggered and a big contagious laugh filled the aisle. My father turned a little pale, looked at me and in a desperate voice, of one who has been caught, said “Let’s get out of here!” I grabbed his hand and we high tailed it to the front door without looking back. We didn’t stop until we reached our car. I think we laughed all the way home.

I’ve thought of that “laughing bag” often. I wish I could have found one again and given it to him for his birthday. For a man who loved to laugh it would have been the perfect gift.

I miss hearing his laugh, but suspect one of the things he is learning to do is to tell a flawless joke. One that will make God’s heaven shake with laughter.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:21b NASB

Psalm 23 – American Plains Indian Version

In my Wisconsin wanderings I came across a path beside a river.

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It led to this covered bridge which led to…

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This tiny chapel which was only big enough for about 20 people. (I apologize for the blurry picture.)

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We followed the path that led behind the chapel and found a series of small frames set on posts.

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Not all of the plaques were still readable so I have typed a copy below. I hope you enjoy reading Psalm 23 in this Plains Indian Version.

 

The GREAT FATHER above a SHEPHERD CHIEF is.

I am His and with Him I want not. 

He throws out to me a rope

and  the name of the rope is love

and  He draws me to where the grass is green 

and the water is not dangerous, 

and I eat and lie down and am satisfied. 

Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down

but He lifts me up again and draws me into a good road. 

His name is WONDERFUL. 

Sometime,

it may be very soon,  it may be a long, long time. 

He will draw me into a valley. 

It is dark there, but I’ll be afraid not, 

for it is in between those mountains 

that the SHEPHERD CHIEF will meet me 

and the hunger that I have in my heart  all through life will be satisfied.

He gives me a staff to lean upon.  

He spreads a table before me  with all kinds of foods. 

He puts His hand upon my head  and all the “tired” is gone. 

My cup He fills till it runs over. 

What I tell is true.

I lie not. 

These roads that are “away ahead”  will stay with me

through this life and after;

and afterwards I will go to live  in the great house

and sit down  with the SHEPHERD CHIEF forever.

~Isabel Crawford (Missionary to the Indians of the plains)