Monday, August 29, 2011

Visionary Monday: Perfect Self-Forgetfulness

I miss blogging more regularly, as well as keep up with my favorite blogs. But alas! Some things just have to take the backseat when life becomes chaotic and full. I have lots of random blog post ideas, various reflections that have been on my mind as of late. Not to mention, I've been reading more lately and feel quite strongly that I should share some of the treasures that I have come across. I hope to write them out soon, but for now I must share some pleasant quotations on family. Here is a lesson and value that is ever placed before us. If we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, who is Christ, then Calvary Love must be our daily pursuit (Eph 4:15).

In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony. ~ Eva Burrows

"Love is always ready to deny itself, to give, sacrifice, just in the measure of its sincerity and intensity. Perfect love is perfect self-forgetfulness. Hence where there is love in a home, unselfishness is the law. Each forgets self and lives for others.
But where there is selfishness it mars joy. One selfish soul will destroy the sweetness of life in any home. It is like an ugly bush in the midst of a garden of flowers. It was selfishness that destroyed the first home and blighted all the loveliness of Paradise; and it has been blighting lovely things in earth's home ever since. We need to guard against this spirit." ~ J.R. Miller

"We speak much of the duty of making others happy. No day should pass, we say, on which we do not put a little cheer into some discouraged heart, make the path a little smoother for someone’s tired feet, or help some fainting robin unto its nest again. This is right. We cannot put too great emphasis upon the duty of giving happiness and cheer to others. But it is no less a duty that we should be happy and cheerful ourselves." ~ J.R. Miller

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shall Be Satisfied

What it would be to obtain Jesus as the reward of every struggle and weight that we wrestle through! I have been meditating on this, lately. In a world where everything seems to demand your time, affection, energy, and attention from the moment you awake to the moment you lay down at night, it feels much too exhausting to maintain a steady focus on the real Prize. But He shall be obtained because He can be grasped! In my prayer times lately, I have been challenged to ask greater things of my Lord, in spite of various struggles. Some of them, in my judgment, are insignificant or petty. Others, are merely too hard. But as I have thrown each one down before His throne room of mercy, I have come to learn to expect only great and good things from Him. And, through each prayer, to come to find Him as the reward to my every prayer.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. ~ Heb 11:6

Whether this or that comes to pass, it will be according to His will and His Word. He will make it clear. But just give me Jesus when it's said and done! The Psalmist spoke confidently of this one thing,
"As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I wake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness (Ps 17:15)." The Hebrew word here for satisfied means to be sated, to be fulfilled, have one's fill of (have desire satisfied), to enrich. This is the heart-cry of the Psalms. Is this the single cry of our hearts? It needs to be this and this alone. Every hour. Every passing day. Past all our needs and questions, we must increasingly desire Yeshua as He fills every place in our lives and hearts.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Heb 12:1-2

"The essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with Him in perpetual communion. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. Prayer does not mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God Himself, the only Giver of Life, Prayer is not asking, but union with God. Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives. Prayer is the desire to possess God Himself, the Source of all life. The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with Him." ~ Sadhu Sundar Singh

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!

Nothing compares to this - To know and to taste the fruit of such promises! Hashem is good and His mercy is over all that He has made.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate;
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD preserves all who love him,
~ Psalm 145:5-7, 13b-20a

Monday, August 15, 2011

Martin Luther's strange help in understanding & enjoying Scripture

Just read this comforting word recently and thought it was an appropriate excerpt for those of us having to watch others walk through suffering, as well as for when we partake of that same suffering. Glory be to Yeshua's name in all seasons of life.

Luther noticed in Psalm 119 that the writer not only prayed and meditated over the Word of God in order to understand it - he also suffered in order to understand it. The psalmist says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word...It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. (Ps 119:67, 71). An indispensable key to understanding the Scriptures is suffering in the path of righteousness. It is sure that we will all be given this key: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). For some, the Word comes with the key attached: "You received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess 1:6). That's the way it was for Luther.
He proved the value of trials over and over again in his own experience.

For as soon as God's Word becomes known through you, the devil will afflict you, will make a real doctor (teacher of doctrine) of you, and will teach you by his temptation to seek and to love God's Word. For I myself...owe my papists (Roman Catholic adversaries) many thanks for so beating, pressing, and frightening me through the devil's raging, that they have turned me into a fairly good theologian driving me to a goal I should never have reached.

Suffering was woven into life for Luther. Emotionally and spiritually he underwent the most oppressive struggles. For example, in a letter to Melancthon on Aug 2 1527, he writes:
For many a week I have been thrown back and forth in death and Hell; my whole body feels beaten, my limbs are still trembling. I almost lost Christ completely, driven about on the waves and storms of despair and blasphemy against God. But because of the intercession of the faithful, God began to take mercy on me and tor my soul from the depths of Hell.

These were the trials that opened his eyes to the meaning of Scripture. These experiences were as much a part of his exegetical labors as was his Greek lexicon. Seeing such things in the lives of the saints has caused me to think twice before I begrudge the trials of my ministry. How often I am tempted to think that the pressures and conflicts and frustrations are simply distractions from the business of ministry and Bible study. Luther (along with Ps 119: 67, 71) teaches us to see it all another way. The stresses of life, the interruptions, the disappointments, the conflicts, the physical ailments, the losses - all of these may well be the very lens through which we see the meaning of God's Word as never before. Paradoxically, the pain of life may open to us the Word that becomes the pathway to joy.

~ John Piper, When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, pg. 134-135

Monday, August 8, 2011

Visionary Monday: The place for growth

A hard week often results in frustration and discontentment for most. The flesh can try to fight through the hardships of life, but that is like trying to swim upstream. I want to be like the leaf on the surface of a quick moving river, surrendered to the current, and safe in all the river's guiding. To be like that in my Father's hands is my only prayer. Sometimes, home is the most difficult and, yet, most appropriate place to learn this.

“But the true idea of a home is that it is a place for growth...It is a place for children to grow – to grow into physical vigor and health and to be trained in all that shall make them true and noble men and women.

“. . . A true home set up and all its life ordered for the definite purpose of preparing and sending out human lives fashioned into symmetry, filled with lofty impulses and aspirations, governed by principles of rectitude and honor and fitted to enter upon the duties and struggles of life with wisdom and strength.”

~ J.R. Miller

"Christ is building His kingdom with earth's broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth's broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth's saddest failure up to heaven's glory." ~ J.R. Miller

When we are foiled, let us believe we shall overcome; when we have fallen, let us believe we shall rise again. Jacob, after he received a blow which made him lame, yet would not give over wrestling (Gen. 32:25) till he had obtained the blessing. So let us never give up, but, in our thoughts knit the beginning, progress and end together, and then we shall see ourselves in heaven out of the reach of all enemies. ~ Richard Sibbes

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. ~ 2 Cor 1:20-22

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Like honey to my lips...

As an avid fan of honey, I cannot help but adore the references in Scripture about the Lord's words being sweeter than honey. In addition, the fact that the promise land was called "the land flowing with milk and honey" has struck vivid images in my mind since I was young. Mmmmm!

As I was reading over Psalm 119 last night, I was reminded to check up and learn about honey's medicinal and healing properties. I knew the right place to go: my ever-growing herbal library.
The book? Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner (one of the most valuable books I own on that topic).

Here's what he has to share about honey:

Honey (concentrated nectar of wildflowers of various species)
Actions: Antibiotic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, expectorant, antiallergenic, laxative, antianemic, tonic, antifungal, immune stimulant, cell regenerator.

Contains, among other things, a complex assortment of enzymes, organic acids, esters, antibiotic agents, trace minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, hormones, and antimicrobial compounds.
One pound of the average honey contains 1333 calories, 1.4 grams of protein, 23 milligrams of calcium, 73 milligrams of phosphorus, 4.1 milligrams of iron, 1 milligram of niacin, and 16 milligrams of vitamin C, and vitamin A, beta carotene, the complete complex of B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, potassium, iodine, sodium, copper, manganese, high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, and formic acid. Honey, in fact, contains more than 75 different compounds. Many of the remaining substances in honey are so complex (4 to 6 percent of the honey) that they have yet to be identified.
Honey has outperformed antibiotics in the treatment of stomach ulceration, gangrene, surgical wound infections, surgical incisions, and the protections of skin grafts, corneas, blood vessels, and bones during storage and shipment.
It is effective in improving chronic bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, chronic and allergic rhinitis, and sinusitis
It is effective in the treatment of colds, flu, respiratory infections, and general depressed immune problems.

It's incredible how strong and full of nutrients and vitamins and minerals it is! If honey, being so sweet, is this strong for our bodies, how much more is the Word, being called "sweeter," strengthening and vital to our souls?

The law of the LORD is perfect
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of
the honeycomb.
~ Psalm 19:7-10

How sweet are your words to my taste,sweeter than honey to my mouth! ~ Psalm 119:103